Report: Global military spending drops for the first time in 15 years

Military spending around the world dipped in 2012 for the first time since 1998, according to a new report from a Swedish arms control research group.

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The report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found military spending dropped due to spending cuts in the United States and Western Europe, although it was substantially offset by gains in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere.

The U.S. share of global military spending dropped below 40 percent for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Global military spending totaled $1.75 trillion in 2012, a 0.5 percent drop from the prior year, the researchers found.

“We are seeing what may be the beginning of a shift in the balance of world military spending from the rich Western countries to emerging regions, as austerity policies and the drawdown in Afghanistan reduce spending in the former, while economic growth funds continuing increases elsewhere,” Sam Perlo-Freeman, director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production program, said in a statement.

The decline in U.S. military spending was mostly the result of reduced war spending, the report found, as a result of the end of the war in Iraq in 2011 and the drawdown in Afghanistan.

U.S. military spending fell 6 percent to $682 billion in 2012. War spending dropped to $115 billion in 2012 from $159 billion in 2011, and another $15 billion was cut as a result of the Budget Control Act.

The U.S. drop coincided with increases in China and Russia, the second- and third-largest military spenders in the world.

China’s military spending rose $11.5 billion to $158 billion, a 7.8 percent in 2012. Russia’s spending increased by 16 percent to $91 billion.