chapter  2
18 Pages

The Us Army

The US Army is unparalleled. It is the most advanced and powerful land-based military organisation currently involved in international relations. It possesses more disposable and precise firepower at the brigade level, a formation of roughly 5,000 troops, than the average national army on some continents of the world. It has remained the most influential army in world affairs since the end of World War II and has set trends in the development and use of new weapons, formations and tactics that enjoy global adoption. As the Global War on Terror enters its final stage, the US Army has reached a high point of investment over more than a decade of fighting, a state of affairs that is unsurprising in view that ‘defence spending nearly doubled over the last decade (in constant dollars)’.1 As of 2011, it has 566,065 soldiers in its active all-volunteer component, or 639,063 if National Guard and Active Reserve are included;2 this represents, in the active volunteers alone, an increase of over 64,000 troops since 2004.3

From rifles to rations, armour to artillery, helicopters to high-capability communication packages, the US Army is qualitatively ahead of all other armies across the globe. This is a deliberate choice by the United States as a nationstate, and the growth has been possible because it has one of the most powerful economies in the world. In 2004 it devoted around 3.4 percent4 of its gross domestic product (GDP) to defence spending; this reached almost 5 percent in 2008.5 For comparison purposes, the GDP of the United States stood at $10.9 trillion in 20036 and $14.6 trillion in 2010.7 In 2005 alone, the figure spent on defence amounted to $423,098 billion8 and the 2010 estimate is over $700 billion.9 For the US Army alone, the 2005 defence budget allocated $97.2 billion.10 This figure is nearly double the size of the entire British defence budget for 2004 ($49 billion).11 It is crucial to note, however, that this extraordinary investment in the US Army over the last decade has gone directly towards supporting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or ‘consumption’,12 and not the longterm development of the service; this carries certain implications for the future.