Defense and National Security

About one-sixth of federal spending goes to national defense. CBO estimates the budgetary effects of legislation related to national security and assesses the cost-effectiveness of current and proposed defense programs. CBO also analyzes federal programs and issues related to veterans.

  • Report

    As aircraft age, they generally become more expensive to operate. The rate of cost growth for the Air Force’s aging aircraft has increased in recent years to a considerable degree because of growth in the total Air Force budget.

  • Interactive

    This tool allows the user to see the effects on the Department of Defense’s total operation and support costs and on the size of the military of adding or subtracting tanks, ships, aircraft, and other units.

  • Report

    The Navy could use several approaches to increase the size of its fleet. This report focuses on reactivating decommissioned ships, drawing insights from past experiences that might inform lawmakers’ decisions about reactivating ships.

  • Report

    CBO regularly analyzes the Navy’s shipbuilding programs and produces its own estimates of the costs of new ships. CBO’s method relies on historical experience, with adjustments for rate, learning, acquisition strategy, and economic factors.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that the costs of achieving a 355-ship Navy under two different approaches would average over $100 billion annually through 2047. Those scenarios are compared with two others that would cost less and involve a smaller fleet.

  • Report

    This report examines the depot-level maintenance experiences of aging combat aircraft currently in use by DoD and provides insights for the Congress and DoD to consider as the F-35 fleet enters service.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that inflation-adjusted costs for the Department of Defense would climb from the $575 billion requested in 2018 to $688 billion in 2027 if DoD pursued goals that Administration officials have articulated for the military.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that the Obama Administration’s 2017 plans for nuclear forces would cost $1.2 trillion (in 2017 dollars) over the 2017–2046 period. CBO analyzed nine options that would reduce those costs or delay some of them.

  • Report

    CBO examined possible changes to the Department of Defense’s Military Health System, analyzing the effects of those changes on the federal budget, the quality of military health care, and preparedness for wartime missions.

  • Report

    Funding for support functions consumes more of the defense budget today than it did in the 1980s, CBO finds. The largest increases were in health care, DoD management, communications infrastructure, and the science and technology program.

  • Report

    From 2008 to 2015, male veterans ages 22 to 44 who left active-duty service after September 2001 had experiences in the labor market similar to those of civilian men, although the youngest veterans had somewhat higher unemployment rates.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that construction costs to build a fleet of 355 ships would average $26.6 billion (in 2017 dollars) per year over the next 30 years, which is 60 percent more than what the Navy has spent on average over the past 30 years.

  • Report

    The Obama Administration’s final defense plan called for base-budget funding averaging $540 billion (in 2017 dollars) from 2017 through 2021, but it would have reached almost $600 billion per year by 2032 under DoD’s cost assumptions. 

  • Report

    CBO estimates that the cost of the Navy’s 2017 shipbuilding plan—an average of about $21 billion per year (in 2016 dollars) over 30 years—would be $5 billion higher than the average funding that the Navy has received in recent decades.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that existing plans for U.S. nuclear forces would cost $400 billion over the 2017–2026 period—$52 billion more than CBO’s 2015 estimate for the 2015–2024 period, largely because modernization programs will be ramping up.

  • Report

    The U.S. military’s capabilities and budget are determined primarily by its forces. This report describes each type of major combat unit’s structure, function, strengths and limitations, past usage, size, and cost.

  • Report

    The Department of Defense’s five-year plan calls for budgets averaging $534 billion (in 2016 dollars) from 2016 through 2020, but they would average $565 billion per year from 2021 through 2030 under the department’s cost assumptions.

  • Report

    The Defense Department could cut federal costs by replacing some military personnel in support positions with civilian employees. If DoD replaced 80,000 military personnel, it could eventually save $3.1 billion to $5.7 billion annually.

  • Report

    The Navy can sustain its forward presence under smaller shipbuilding budgets by using longer deployments, more overseas basing, and more rotating crews. But those methods would offset some of the savings and have other disadvantages.

  • Report

    The Department of Defense's base budget increased by 31 percent (adjusted for inflation) between 2000 and 2014, mainly because of higher costs for military personnel and operation and maintenance.

  • Report

    From 2000 to 2013, the number of veterans receiving VA disability payments rose by nearly 55 percent, and spending for those benefits almost tripled. How might changes in VA's disability compensation program affect the federal budget?

  • Report

    Between 2000 and 2012, the cost of providing health care to service members, retirees, and their families increased by 130 percent (after adjusting for inflation). What approaches might curtail the growth in those costs?

  • Report

    The costs of the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) budget plans through 2021 would be much higher than the funding permitted under the Budget Control Act’s statutory caps. CBO examined four options to cut back on DoD’s forces and activities.