Special Report

Countries Spending the Most on War

7. India
> Military expenditure:
$50.0 billion
> Pct. change military expenditure, 2005-2014: 38.7%
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 2.4%
> Military expenditure per capita: $39

Despite being a growing open-market economy, India spent only $39 per capita on its military in 2014, by far the lowest amount of any of the countries in the top 10 for overall defense spending. China, for example, which had the second lowest per capita military expenditure, spent $155 for each of its citizens. The world’s second most populous country, with 1.2 billion people, India has an army of 2.75 million active personnel, second in size only to China’s 3.0 million strong armed forces. India does not have a draft but accepts men 16 to 18 as volunteers for military service. Women may join the military for non-combat roles only. India’s relations with other nations are complicated. The South Asian country recently held joint military training exercises with Chinese rival Nepal, just as historic adversary Pakistan began joint exercises with Russia. India recently agreed to send a military contingent to Moscow for Russia’s victory day celebration of its defeat of Germany in World War II.

6. United Kingdom
> Military expenditure:
$60.5 billion
> Pct. change military expenditure, 2005-2014: -5.5%
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 2.2%
> Military expenditure per capita: $952

The United Kingdom’s 2014 military spending declined by 5.5% from 2005, the largest decline of any of the 10 countries with the highest levels of military spending. The drop is consistent with Britain’s austerity program adopted in the wake of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. The U.K.’s per capita military spending fell from eighth highest in the world in 2005 to 12th highest in 2014. As a result of the cut, the U.K.’s armed forces shrank from 217,000 active personnel in 2005 to 159,150 in 2013. The U.K. has an all-volunteer military. Women are included in military services but not in ground combat. The U.K. spent $952 per capita on its military, one of the highest levels in the world. The head of the British army, General Sir Nicholas Carter, recently criticized the makeup of Britain’s armed forces, noting the need to recruit more visible and ethnic minorities in proportion to their share of the country’s population.

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5. France
> Military expenditure:
$62.3 billion
> Pct. change military expenditure, 2005-2014: -3.2%
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 2.2%
> Military expenditure per capita: $964

In 2005, France spent $837 per capita on its military, the ninth highest amount of all countries. In 2014, per capita spending was $964, 11th highest in the world. Overall, French military spending fell 3.2% from third highest in 2005, as total spending has declined from $65.1 billion in 2005 to $63.0 billion in 2011 dollars last year. In the last three years, the size of the all-volunteer French military has dropped to 318,400 active personnel in 2013 from 359,000 in 2005. The cuts have been so severe that the heads of the French Army, Navy, and Airforce as well as the head of France’s joint chiefs of staff reportedly threatened to resign if the government makes more cuts to the military budget. They cautioned that any more cuts could undermine France’s ability to pursue its military missions abroad.