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

    The military services use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) differently than manned aircraft. UASs generally have lower recurring costs per flying hour, but their cost advantage may be smaller when the cost of acquiring the aircraft is considered.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that plans for U.S. nuclear forces, as described in the fiscal year 2021 budget and supporting documents, would cost $634 billion over the 2021–2030 period, $140 billion more than CBO’s 2019 estimate for the 2019–2028 period.

  • 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

    This update of CBO’s 2016 primer on the structure of the U.S. military describes the size, functions, and operation and support costs of every major element of the armed forces.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that the total shipbuilding budget would average $34 billion per year, 10 percent more than the Navy estimates. The Navy’s average shipbuilding budget would be almost 50 percent larger, on average, than those of recent years.

  • Report

    This report provides CBO’s projections of the Army’s costs to acquire tanks and other ground combat vehicles through 2050. On the basis of the Army’s plans, those costs are projected to average about $5 billion annually.

  • Report

    The Navy’s shipyards have experienced significant delays in completing maintenance on submarines. In this report, CBO projects that required maintenance will continue to exceed the shipyards’ capacity and examines options to reduce delays.

  • Report

    CBO examined the threat that adversaries equipped with land-attack cruise missiles might pose to the U.S. homeland and estimated the costs of several defensive systems that could be fielded to protect the United States from such attacks.

  • Report

    CBO estimated the costs of the recommendations of the 2019 Missile Defense Review, including early initiatives implemented before the report was released and expansions of missile defenses that could result from report’s directives.

  • Report

    In a cost estimate prepared in October 2000, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that spending for new health care benefits for military retirees would total about $57 billion over the 2003–2010 period; actual costs over that period were about $55 billion.

  • Report

    By CBO’s calculations, the Navy’s new frigate could cost 40 percent more than the service estimates. If the Navy’s estimate proves correct, however, the frigate would be its least expensive surface combatant in the past 50 years.

  • Report

    CBO analyzes DoD’s plans for 2021 through 2025 as presented in the 2021 Future Years Defense Program and projects how those plans would affect defense costs through 2035.

  • Report

    CBO examined what the costs would be if the New START Treaty expired in February 2021 and the United States increased its nuclear forces to the levels specified in the Moscow, START II, or START I treaties, considering two approaches for each.

  • Report

    CBO examines two options for establishing a Space National Guard to support active component Space Force personnel, estimating the additional costs beyond those incurred for existing Air and Army National Guard units that have space-related missions.

  • Report

    This report examines some of the challenges U.S. forces might face in a conflict in the Baltic region or the South China Sea and options for mitigating those challenges by procuring and fielding ground-launched long-range missiles.

  • Report

    Summarizing three reports about the aviation fleets of the U.S. Air Force, Army, and the Department of the Navy, CBO projects the number and costs of aircraft the Department of Defense would need to procure to maintain the fleets’ current size through 2050.

  • Report

    This report examines military compensation and its effects on recruitment, retention, and motivation. CBO also provides a comparison with civilian compensation packages and examines five possible approaches for altering the way that DoD compensates military personnel.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that purchasing new aircraft to maintain the aviation fleet of the Navy and Marine Corps at its current size would cost about $380 billion (in 2018 dollars) from 2020 to 2050. Annual costs would range from $7 billion to $17 billion.

  • Report

    In 2016, members of the reserve component received an average of $12,500 in benefits (measured in 2018 dollars) under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This report describes their use of those benefits and compares how the reserve and regular components use their benefits.

  • Report

    In 2016, the military services allocated $25 billion to base operations support (BOS). CBO explores characteristics of bases and the mission of the units they serve, analyzing the relationship between those characteristics and BOS costs.

  • Report

    CBO estimates that the Navy’s plan to modernize and operate its sealift ships over the next 30 years would cost roughly $39 billion. In this report, CBO explores four alternatives that would vary in cost from $34 billion to $40 billion.

  • Report

    From 2010 through 2016, the Veterans Benefits Administration spent $65 billion on educational benefits for 1.6 million veterans, spouses and children, mostly for veterans’ tuition, fees, and housing. In 2016, VBA spent an average of $17,400 per beneficiary.

  • 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.