The Ten Largest Military Powers In The World

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5. Russia
> Spending 2010: $[58.7] Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 82.4%
> Share of GDP: [4]%
Although Russian military spending decreased 1.4% from 2009 to 2010, it increased 82.4% over the entire decade.  According to the BBC, Russia has plans to spend $650 billion on defense between now and 2020.  According to Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, this money would be used to modernize the country’s armed forces.  It currently relies heavily on the nuclear arsenal built during the Cold War.

4. France
> Spending 2010: $59.3 Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 3.3%
> Share of GDP: 2.3%
While France’s military spending increased 3.3% over the past decade, it decreased a stunning 8.4% from 2009 to 2010.  This decrease, which is by far the largest on our list, is mostly the result of the global economic crisis.  The crisis was severe in Europe, and hit France especially hard.  This has caused the government under Nicolas Sarkozy to make large cuts to rein in the deficit.

3. UK
> Spending 2010: $59.6 Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 21.9%
> Share of GDP: 2.7%
The United Kingdom surpassed France in amount spent on military in 2010.  Despite a growth of 21.9% in spending over the decade, the UK’s military expenditures dropped 0.8% from 2009 to 2010.  This amount will most likely decrease more in 2011.  In late 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the country would be making defense cuts, including cutting 17,000 troops, to help bring down the debt.  The country will instead focus more on its special forces, which includes its counter-terrorism units.

(Also Read: Finland May Be New Block To EU Bailouts)

2. China
> Spending 2010: $[119] Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 189%
> Share of GDP: [2.1]%
China spent the second greatest amount on the military in 2010, and the amount is growing quickly.  From 2001 to 2010, the country’s military expenditures increased 189%.  This is more than double the amount of any other country on this list.  Weak economic performance in 2009 caused the 2009-2010 increase to only be 3.8%. Spending in 2011 will increase by 12.7%, according to the BBC.  It should be noted, however, that many analysts believe China’s defense spending is higher than the country reports.

1. USA
> Spending 2010: $698 Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 81.3%
> Share of GDP: 4.8%
The United States spent just under $700 billion on its military in 2010, more than all the other countries on this list combined.  The amount of GDP which goes towards defense has also risen in the US from 3.1% in 2001 to an estimated 4.8% in 2010.  This is the highest amount among countries with reliable military spending data outside of the Middle East.  Even with the country’s large debt, military spending seems to be untouchable in the political realm.  As the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s report says: “President Obama’s FY2012 budget
announced a 5-year freeze on non-security-related discretionary expenditure, but
military spending, along with other security spending such as intelligence and
Homeland Security is exempt.”

Douglas A. McIntyre & Charles B. Stockdale