Americans need to be more aware of U.S. military spending

The American lack of understanding when it comes to our money and how we spend it poses a dangerous threat to the productivity of our country and creates issues of disrespect toward our troops. Military budgeting may seem expensive but it’s necessary for the development and protection of our country, as well as for other operations around the world.

Americans need to reassess their understanding of not only budgeting in the military, but what the Armed Forces do as a whole. I will not deny that there are places for improvement in the military budget, but the automatic assumption that all taxes are going to improper spending on machine guns is ignorant and false, and there is reason such a large portion of the national budget goes to the Military.

The military budget has been growing steadily since 2000 because of the need to develop technology, in order to replace those missing due to the shrinking rate of enlistment. In 1990, there were 2,065,597 active-duty service members. In 2015, there were 1,340,533, according to the Pew Research Center, and the enlistment number continues to drop. As my father,  a 22 year veteran and current consultant for the Airforce, put it: there are less people willing to sacrifice for their country nowadays.

To be fair, the United States is not at war, and the decline of military personnel could be seen as carried over demilitarization following the Vietnam war. Even though Congress hasn’t declared war, most American citizens — regardless of whether they agree on its necessity — understand we continue to have a military presence worldwide. Involvement in incidents like Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terror have furthered our need for additional funding and personnel as the Armed Forces play a pivotal role in U.S. diplomacy. Maintaining these operations and peaceful relations around the world demands a large price.

But the majority of this money is not spent on weapons and technology to counteract the decline in enlistment. Procuring new weapons is, fiscally speaking, third on the military’s list– with only 90.4 of the total 496 billion dollars in the 2015 budget being spent on this.

About 67 percent of the 2015 budget was provided for operations, maintenance, and military personnel, according to Business Insider. Over half the budget goes to filling cars with gas, paying for personnel and dependent health insurance, salaries and other tasks needed to keep the military — and the country — running.

In addition, the military (especially the Air Force) is involved in many humane projects, disaster relief, and other aid projects. Remember Hurricane Katrina? The relief was organized by the U.S. military. Despite the underwhelming support for Puerto Rico this last fall, the majority of U.S. effort was performed by servicemen and women, led by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan. Operations like these cost money.

Even more so, the military runs a multitude of operations whether or not the country is involved in conflict. For example, the coast guard works on defense, ocean rescues, drug busts, and other necessities. The Air Force works on development of GPS, satellites, and communication technology.

With a better understanding of our military spending, Americans can turn their attention to the rest of our budget and become aware of gross overspending in other departments. While it’s important to be skeptical, we all need to do a little more research before we jump on blaming the military for economic issues.