Mehrdad Halalkhar, member of the Shahid Sadr Research Center of the State Expediency Council told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that none of the US rivals in the global stage can afford allocating such a generous budget to the research and development in the defense and military sector.
He explained that the US military budget has been registering a declining trend since 1945 but has reached from 35.5 percent of the US GDP in 1944 to 8.6 percent in 1968, 4.5 percent in 2010 and finally 3.1 percent in 2020.
“Even though there may have been fluctuations in defense spending proportion to the US GDP throughout the time depending on the events and situations such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the budget allocation mechanism in the US military and budget section is always structured as it is drafted by permanent security and defense experts whose ideas and approaches do not change when a new administration comes into power. In fact there is a structural common sense in the defense budget allocation of the United States.”
Halalkhar added that the US policy shifted towards the East Asia during the Obama administration that sought to reduce America’s direct military presence in the Middle East, saying that Obama tried to exploit international capacities and reduce its direct military presence in the Middle East.
“However, during the Trump tenure, the international relations of the United States with Europe and especially the NATO member states were weakened and the US government failed to realize this plan during Trump presidency.”
He said the Biden administration is now adopting a similar approach to Obama as the US army is reducing its military presence in Iraq but at the same time, NATO forces are increasing their presence in Iraq by seven times greater than the past.
“This is indicative of the new US approach towards its military presence in Iraq. Trump tried to attract Europe’s money with intimidation and coercion within the framework of NATO. However, Biden, in line with the objectives of the West and the United States in particular is easily exploiting both the money and troops of Europe by giving them a role within the framework of NATO.”
Concentration on new technologies
Halalkhar said the US government has cut its budget for direct military presence in other countries and has instead allocated more budget to expanding research and development, testing and upgrading its military equipment as well as new technologies.
“During the Trump period, and in the US macro defense policies, this issue became evident and public that the US is falling behind other countries and its global rivals in many important sections and sectors of military and defense such as the renovation of its nuclear facilities and power, its missile, anti-missile and space power, cyberspace and new technologies and should therefore allocate its military budget on the basis of reconstructing such capabilities and powers. Therefore, the Trump government withdrew from all international treaties which could restrict the renovation and expansion of elements which result in the supremacy of the US military.”
He said the US military budget exceeded 700 billion dollars in 2020 but was increased to 705 billion dollars in 2021, adding that the 1.1 billion dollar increase in the US military budget in 2021 was due to an increase in monetary inflation in the United States.
“Therefore, the US defense budget in 2021 has not registered a remarkable increase compared to its previous year even from the quantitative point of view and if we consider the inflation rate of more than two percent in the US economy, we can propose that the real budget of the US military in 2021 has indeed decreased compared to 2020.”
Halalkhar said the proposed military budget of Obama for the US military in 2010 stood at 668 billion dollars which included 4.5 percent of the US DGDP, adding that such a budget was more than 2021 considering economic indexes such as the monetary inflation rate.
Referring to the withdrawal of the United States from some bilateral and international treaties such as the space, nuclear and missile treaties, he said “for example, US withdrawal from the NIF treaty was due to the threat and danger it felt from China—a feeling which was shared with Russia as well. Withdrawal from international treaties that restricted the military power of the US army marked a new chapter in global rivalry in the military domains.”
He added that the US declared that it is going to station missiles with nuclear capabilities in space. Russia then tested its hypersonic missiles which cannot be intercepted and targeted by any anti-missile system. Russia also put in its agenda the manufacture of nuclear trains capable of carrying nuclear missiles without specifying which train is carrying them. This aimed at deterrence for Russia as any such train could be stationed in the border with Europe and even the United States.
Halalkhar said that the United States has openly and repeatedly stated in its nuclear documents during 2016 and 2020 that it is losing its supremacy or its security margin in nuclear issues.
“Americans are trying to develop their nuclear capability-not in terms of expansion by in technological terms. On the other hand, based on the reports and analyses of American sources and experts, for example, US fighter jets, aircraft carriers and missiles are dilapidated and phased out. They allocated their military budget in 2021 on such a basis. Therefore, allocating 106 billion dollars to research and development in the military and defense sector considering this issue could be meaningful. The United States has been established to win in global competitions and needs to define such a budget for its research and development.”
He said the United States wants to reduce its operational troops in its military bases outside of its soil and borders in spite of a 1.1 billion dollar growth in its defense expenses in 2021. Notwithstanding, 106 billion dollars is going to be spent on research and development, testing and upgrading relevant technologies in the US army.
Special attention to boosting nuclear power in marine, ground and areal facilities of the US army
This expert of international relations explained the details of the budget figures allocated to the US army for expanding its nuclear activities, saying that the United States has allocated significant amount of budget to building new bombs and aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles that could be fired from submarine as well as ground missiles. However, the point is that all such divisions have been placed under the title of nuclear exploitations.
Referring to the budget allocated to the US army missile activities in areas such as ballistic missiles and new generation defense systems such as Thad and Patriot systems in the 2021 US military budget, Halalkhar said that “of course when Yemeni army targeted Saudi Arabia, the functions and performance of the US missile defense systems went under question or perhaps the Americans wanted Saudi Arabia to be intentionally targeted by Yemeni drones and missiles. Anyway, the United States is strengthening the capabilities of such defense systems to maintain its international credibility.”
He said all the military programs during Obama tenure were executed in secrecy however Trump administration chose to implement such programs openly and publicly.
“The proposal to set up a new branch for the US space forces had been tabled before in American expert circles. However Trump recognized it and separated the space division of the army from the US Air Force. Of course, this issue was not that much significant in content however it resulted in managerial concentration and was able to attract 18 billion dollars in budget.”
Formation of new competition between the United States and China in marine sector
He further referred to the expenses of the US army for renovating its military equipment in the air and marine forces, saying that the United States is seeking to utilize nuclear capable missiles in its marine forces and this is significant.
“In this sector, there has been an ongoing competition between the United States and Russia. Moreover, a new competition is being formed between the US and China as China has attained remarkable achievements and progress in the marine and submarine sectors, forcing the United States to invest more in these two domains.”
Enormous budget for research and development
This university professor said the 2021 budget of the US army has considered four main areas for research and development. They include hypersonic missiles which cannot be intercepted and targeted, the micro-electric with the use of G5 internet, automatic weapons and artificial intelligence.