Wednesday, April 08, 2009

DoD numbers on personnel spending

By Jim Arkedis

SecDef Gates has begun the difficult process of trying to get the military to spend a bit more sensibly. Thus far, the focus has been on weapons systems. But here's the other side of the equation - personnel.

Here are some 2009 numbers to mull, taken straight from DoD's comptroller:

$128.56 billion - total military pay to active duty personnel

$ 70.8 billion - military benefits, including retirement pay

$ 24.76 billion - expenditure on DoD health services

$ 3.35 billion - expenditure on military family housing

That's 36% of a $637 billion total DoD budget.

There are approximately 1.44 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on active duty right now. With a little round math, that means we're spending at least $167,800 each... and that doesn't even count training costs (which I haven't found yet).

I think it's right to engage in a serious conversation about weapons spending - we need it. But this stuff has to be brought into the conversation as well. Manpower is the military's most important asset and we'll continue to pay for it. But are there ways to reward our personnel - particularly in a time of war - and do so in a fiscally responsible manner? I don't know just yet. It's a political time-bomb, too - how does any Commander-in-Chief (particularly a Democrat) say he wants to restructure military pay without making himself vulnerable?

(Cross-posted to AllOurMight.)

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  • According to your figures, we're paying those 1.44M soldiers an average of 89K in salary alone.

    Do you really think that's right, or should I take your word for it?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:40 PM  

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