Overseas operations are often misleadingly budgeted around 10-12% of the overall Pentagon spending annually. Officials, however, say that when operations and general maintenance are figured in, the cost grows to cover over half of the nation’s military spending, $251 billion as of 2015.
That percentage is a huge increase, and one which has steadily and precipitously grown for decades, though Pentagon officials insist no one is exactly sure why everything seems to cost way more than it did the previous year even though the number of troops and the number of wars relatively stable.
Some officials are trying to shrug it off as rising fuel costs or the like, and while fuel prices indeed rose many of those years, it was not the straight line increase like that the Pentagon is seeing on its costs of doing more or less everything they do.
The simpler answer, though one the Pentagon isn’t considering, is that operations and maintenance costs are rising dramatically simply because they can, because irrespective of supposed budget limitations, Congress always gives the Pentagon everything it asks for and then some.
Indeed, while figure in this study was separated from the large-scale weapons projects, those are largely doing the exact same thing, with most big US weapons projects coming in way, way over budget and delivering much less than expected, again, because contractors have no reason not to keep jacking up the prices every year.
It’s something that’s going to become a growing issue in the years to come, as with the costs of buying stuff, doing stuff, or maintaining the already bought stuff are pretty much the whole budget, and with all rising at a huge rate it’s getting less and less possible for the Pentagon to just shuffle the figures around and make it look like they’re not badly mishandling their budget.