Global Military Expenditure Mounts To A Record $2,443 Billion, India Remains 4th Largest


New Delhi: Amid the ongoing conflicts around the world, global military spending is on the rise. Countries around the world are in an arms race with each other to keep themselves militarily superior to others. The global military expenditure has been increasing year by year.

India doesn’t get the top spot but remains the fourth largest defence spender after the US, Russia and China. The country has been focusing on its military modernization but it is affected as the big bucks for the budget goes in on military salaries and pensions. Other hurdles are a weak industrial base and the absence of long-term plans to build a strong military.

China is spending huge chunks of money on its military but it is basically to challenge the US and prevent any intervention in Taiwan and South China Sea region. But along the border with India which is the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Beijing continues to flex its muscles. Even after several talks to de-escalate tensions it is not ready to back out and has also increased its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which was released on Monday states “the total global military expenditure increased by 6.8% in real terms in 2023”. As per the data, the largest 10 military spenders in the world were US ($916Billion), China($296Billion),
Russia($109 billion), India ($84 billion), Saudi Arabia ($76 billion), UK ($75 billion), Germany ($67 billion), Ukraine ($65 billion), France ($61 billion) and Japan ($50 billion). Pakistan was placed at the 30th spot with $ 8.5 billion.

SIPRI has also said that it is for the first time since 2009 that military expenditure went up in all five geographical locations: The Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia-Oceania. The Indian Armed Forces continue to grapple with major operational shortages in several areas, ranging from fighters, submarines and helicopters to modern infantry weapons, anti-tank guided missiles and night fighting capabilities.

The 6.2 Lakh crore defence budget for 2024-25, for instance, allocates just 28% for military modernization. The defence outlay just works out to just 1.9% of the projected GDP, if the huge Rs 1.4 Lakh Crore pensionallocation for 32 Lakh Ex-Servicemen and retired defence civilians is considered. It is further dropped to 1.5% if the pension bill is excluded. This is when at least 2.5% is essential for deterrence against a joint threat from Pakistan and China.

United States
The US continues to be NATO’s largest defence spender. The combined budgets of 31 NATO countries came to $1341 Billion in 2023 or 55% of the global defence spending. The US military budget increased by 2.3% to $ 916 billion in 2023, accounting for 68% of all military spending in NATO.

The majority of NATO states in Europe raised their military spending in 2023. Their combined percentage of the NATO membership was 28%, the highest in ten years. The final 4% originated in Turkiye and Canada. Ten years after explicitly pledging to dedicate 2% of GDP to military spending, the majority of NATO members—eleven out of thirty-one—met or exceeded this threshold in 2023. Another goal, which was to allocate at least 20% of the military budget to “equipment spending,” was attained by 28 NATO nations in 2023 as opposed to just 7 in 2014.

An estimated $296 billion was given to the military in 2023 by China, the second-largest military spender in the world, an increase of 6.0% from 2022. This marked the 29th straight year that China’s military spending has increased. Half of all military spending in the Asia-Pacific area was attributed to China. Several of China’s neighbours have connected China’s growing military spending to rises in their budgets.

‘China is directing much of its growing military budget to boost the combat readiness of the People’s Liberation Army,’ said Xiao Liang, Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. ‘This has prompted the governments of Japan, Taiwan and others to significantly build up their military capabilities, a trend that will accelerate further in the coming years.’

Middle East
Estimated military expenditure in the Middle East increased by 9.0 per cent to $200 billion in 2023. This was the highest annual growth rate in the region seen in the past decade. Israel’s military spending—the second largest in the region after Saudi A—grew by 24 per cent to reach $27.5 billion in 2023. The spending increase was mainly driven by Israel’s large-scale offensive in Gaza in response to the attack on southern Israel by Hamas in October 2023.

Military aid to Ukraine narrows spending gap with Russia
Russia’s military budget climbed by 24% to an expected $109 billion in 2023, a 57% increase since the year of the country’s annexation of Crimea. Russia spent 16% of its total government budget on the military in 2023, while its military burden, or military spending as a percentage of GDP, was 5.9%.

In 2023, Ukraine ranked seventh in terms of spending, following a 51% increase to $64.8 billion. This resulted in a 37% military burden for Ukraine and accounted for 58% of all government spending. In 2023, Ukraine’s military budget accounted for 59% of Russia’s. At least $35 billion in military assistance, including $25.4 billion from the United States, was nonetheless given to Ukraine throughout the year. When combined, the amount spent by Russia on the military and the aid provided to Ukraine amounted to around 91%.

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