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  • U.S. Marine sits on top of an armored personnel carrier during Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israel joint air defence exercise in southern Israel, March 12, 2018.

    U.S. Marine sits on top of an armored personnel carrier during Juniper Cobra, a U.S.-Israel joint air defence exercise in southern Israel, March 12, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 May 2019
Opinion

As the biggest military spenders, the U.S. outdid themselves for the first time since 2010 growing their expenditure by 4.6 percent, to reach US$649 billion in 2018.

World military expenditure rose to US$1822 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 2.6 percent from 2017, according to the brand new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

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The amount spent for war has reached record-high numbers, its highest level since the end of the Cold War. The five biggest spenders were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, in that order, which together accounted for 60 percent of global military spending. Most notably, Russia ranked outside the top five for the first time since 2006. 

“In 2018 the U.S. and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending,” said Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) program, adding that “the higher level of world military expenditure is mainly the result of significant increases in spending by these two countries.”

As the biggest military spenders, the U.S. outdid themselves or the first time since 2010 growing their expenditure by 4.6 percent, to reach US$649 billion in 2018, which means almost as much as the next eight largest-spending countries combined.

 

“The increase in U.S. spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programs under the Trump administration,” explains Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX program.

But the Chinese didn't stay behind as their total spending grew as well for the 24 consecutive year. Between 2009 and 2018, all but three of the current top 15 countries increased their military expenditure, the exceptions being the United States (–17 percent), the United Kingdom (–17 percent) and Italy (–14 percent). 

As regional figures go, total military spending increased in the Americas by 4.4 percent), Asia and Oceania by 3.3 percent and Europe by 1.4 percent between 2017 and 2018. The reports highlights that rise in military spending in 2018 in the Americas was the first since 2010, while the rise in Europe is the sixth annual increase in the past decade.

Meanwhile, Asia and Oceania military spending have risen every year since reliable regional estimates became available in 1988. In contrast, military expenditure in Africa fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, as well as in the Middle East by 1.9 percent.

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