Special Report

What the US Spent on the Military Every Year Since 1970

DanielBendjy / E+ via Getty Images

Expanding military expenditure in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives goes back to, at least, President Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Stick policy. While U.S. military expenditure has declined in some years, it has generally steadily increased to the current record levels, surpassing not just previous years levels but also expenditure levels of all other countries. (Here is how the world’s top military spenders compare to the U.S.)

To identify what the U.S. spent on the military the year you were born, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on U.S. military spending from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database, listing the years 1970-2022. Figures are in current U.S. dollars. We also calculated the percentage change in military spending from the previous year.

In 1970, during the height of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military budget had risen to more than $80 billion, a more than 50% increase from 1965, when the U.S. first sent troops into the Southeast Asian nation.

After the Vietnam War, expenditures continued to steadily increase, and by the early 1980s, military spending accelerated significantly. This surge came under President Ronald Reagan, practically tripling military expenditures of the Vietnam era.

In the years following the Cold War, during an era of relative peace, defense spending declined. The turning point was the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, after which the U.S. embarked on the War on Terror, again increasing defense expenditures significantly.

In the post 9/11 era, the Department of Defense budget peaked in 2011 around $750 billion due to large-scale operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the latter years of the Obama Administration, spending contracted moderately, reflecting gradual disengagement from the active battlefronts.

However, defense spending has continuously grown since 2016 under the Trump administration, reaching fresh highs in 2020 and continuing even higher under the current Biden Administration, mostly in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the aid provided to Ukraine. (Also see which countries are sending the most aid to Ukraine.)

Click here to see what the US spent on the military every year since 1970.

Source: Harvey Meston / Getty Images

1970: $83.41 billion
> Increase from previous year: -1.86% – #43 largest Increase on list

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Source: Space Frontiers / Getty Images

1971: $78.24 billion
> Increase from previous year: -6.20% – #51 largest Increase on list

Source: Archive Photos / Getty Images

1972: $80.71 billion
> Increase from previous year: 3.16% – #29 largest Increase on list

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1973: $81.47 billion
> Increase from previous year: 0.94% – #40 largest Increase on list

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Source: Pictorial Parade / Getty Images

1974: $89.28 billion
> Increase from previous year: 9.59% – #12 largest Increase on list

Source: Archive Photos / Getty Images

1975: $92.08 billion
> Increase from previous year: 3.14% – #30 largest Increase on list

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Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1976: $94.72 billion
> Increase from previous year: 2.87% – #32 largest Increase on list

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1977: $104.67 billion
> Increase from previous year: 10.50% – #10 largest Increase on list

Source: Space Frontiers / Getty Images

1978: $113.38 billion
> Increase from previous year: 8.32% – #16 largest Increase on list

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Source: Tony Duffy / Getty Images

1979: $126.88 billion
> Increase from previous year: 11.91% – #6 largest Increase on list

Source: FPG / Getty Images

1980: $143.69 billion
> Increase from previous year: 13.25% – #5 largest Increase on list

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Source: Gene Forte / Getty Images

1981: $176.56 billion
> Increase from previous year: 22.88% – #2 largest Increase on list

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

1982: $221.67 billion
> Increase from previous year: 25.55% – #1 largest Increase on list

Source: Tony Duffy / Getty Images

1983: $223.43 billion
> Increase from previous year: 0.79% – #41 largest Increase on list

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Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

1984: $245.15 billion
> Increase from previous year: 9.72% – #11 largest Increase on list

Source: Space Frontiers / Getty Images

1985: $272.16 billion
> Increase from previous year: 11.02% – #9 largest Increase on list

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Source: Getty Images / Staff

1986: $295.55 billion
> Increase from previous year: 8.59% – #14 largest Increase on list

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

1987: $304.09 billion
> Increase from previous year: 2.89% – #31 largest Increase on list

Source: Getty Images / Staff

1988: $309.66 billion
> Increase from previous year: 1.83% – #35 largest Increase on list

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Source: Pascal Rondeau / Getty Images

1989: $321.87 billion
> Increase from previous year: 3.94% – #26 largest Increase on list

Source: Space Frontiers / Getty Images

1990: $325.13 billion
> Increase from previous year: 1.01% – #38 largest Increase on list

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1991: $299.37 billion
> Increase from previous year: -7.92% – #53 largest increase on list

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1992: $325.03 billion
> Increase from previous year: 8.57% – #15 largest Increase on list

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1993: $316.72 billion
> Increase from previous year: -2.56% – #45 largest Increase on list

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Source: Phil Cole / Getty Images

1994: $308.08 billion
> Increase from previous year: -2.73% – #47 largest Increase on list

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1995: $295.85 billion
> Increase from previous year: -3.97% – #49 largest Increase on list

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Source: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

1996: $287.96 billion
> Increase from previous year: -2.67% – #46 largest Increase on list

Source: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

1997: $293.17 billion
> Increase from previous year: 1.81% – #36 largest Increase on list

Source: Space Frontiers / Getty Images

1998: $291.00 billion
> Increase from previous year: -0.74% – #42 largest Increase on list

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Source: USAF / Getty Images

1999: $298.09 billion
> Increase from previous year: 2.44% – #33 largest Increase on list

Source: NASA / Getty Images

2000: $320.09 billion
> Increase from previous year: 7.38% – #20 largest Increase on list

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Source: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

2001: $331.81 billion
> Increase from previous year: 3.66% – #27 largest Increase on list

Source: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

2002: $378.46 billion
> Increase from previous year: 14.06% – #4 largest Increase on list

Source: Scott Barbour / Getty Images

2003: $440.53 billion
> Increase from previous year: 16.40% – #3 largest Increase on list

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Source: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

2004: $493.00 billion
> Increase from previous year: 11.91% – #7 largest Increase on list

2005: $533.20 billion
> Increase from previous year: 8.15% – #17 largest Increase on list

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Source: Wathiq Khuzaie / Getty Images

2006: $558.34 billion
> Increase from previous year: 4.71% – #24 largest Increase on list

Source: David Paul Morris / Getty Images

2007: $589.59 billion
> Increase from previous year: 5.60% – #22 largest Increase on list

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

2008: $656.76 billion
> Increase from previous year: 11.39% – #8 largest Increase on list

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Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2009: $705.92 billion
> Increase from previous year: 7.49% – #19 largest Increase on list

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

2010: $738.01 billion
> Increase from previous year: 4.55% – #25 largest Increase on list

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Source: Majid Saeedi / Getty Images

2011: $752.29 billion
> Increase from previous year: 1.93% – #34 largest Increase on list

Source: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

2012: $725.21 billion
> Increase from previous year: -3.60% – #48 largest Increase on list

Source: Michael Buckner / Getty Images

2013: $679.23 billion
> Increase from previous year: -6.34% – #52 largest increase on list

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Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

2014: $647.79 billion
> Increase from previous year: -4.63% – #50 largest Increase on list

Source: NASA / Getty Images

2015: $633.83 billion
> Increase from previous year: -2.16% – #44 largest Increase on list

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Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

2016: $639.86 billion
> Increase from previous year: 0.95% – #39 largest Increase on list

Source: NASA / Getty Images

2017: $646.75 billion
> Increase from previous year: 1.08% – #37 largest Increase on list

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2018: $682.49 billion
> Increase from previous year: 5.53% – #23 largest Increase on list

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Source: Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

2019: $734.34 billion
> Increase from previous year: 7.60% – #18 largest Increase on list

Source: flyparade / Getty Images

2020: $778.40 billion
> Increase from previous year: 6.00% – #21 largest Increase on list

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Source: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2021: $806.23 billion
> Increase from previous year: 3.60% – #28 largest Increase on list

Source: romrodinka / Getty Images

2022: $876.94 billion
> Increase from previous year: 8.77% – #13 largest Increase on list

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