Defense & Military

Despite the number of people in the armed forces being lower than in decades past, the US military continues to have a presence domestically and abroad.

Latest update on January 27, 2023

What is the state of the national defense?

Get data on military composition, where defense spending goes, and military deaths. Data on this page comes from multiple sources, including the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget.

Spending on national defense & the military

In fiscal year 2020, governments spent a combined total of $837 billion on national defense and the military.

That’s $2,515 per person in the US.

USAFacts categorizes government budget data to allocate spending and appropriately arrive at the estimate presented here. Government spending on national defense peaked in 2010. Today, it accounts for a smaller share of all government spending than in the 1980s.

Government revenue and expenditures are based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Each is published annually, although due to collection times, state and local government data are less current than federal data. Thus, the most recent year for a combined number may be delayed when combining federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures.

Agencies and elected officials

Level of government
Key actors


Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Central Intelligence Agency, Congress, President

Maintain and equip the US military at home and abroad; Maintain and equip reserve forces



Call state national guard troops into service in crises

Level of government



Active-duty troops

In fiscal year 2022, there were 1.3 million active-duty military members.

The number of people actively serving in the military is down from 20th-century levels.

The Department of Defense publishes regular counts of its active-duty members. The department defines an active-duty member as someone who serves in the military full-time in one of its five branches: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Space Force. The number of active-duty military members has declined since the early 1970s. The last military draft was conducted in 1973, after which military service became completely volunteer-based. The Army has historically been the largest branch of the military in the US.

Active-duty military by country

In 2019, China had the largest active-duty military based on personnel, with 2,080,000 members.

Between 1974 and 2021, the Department of State published the World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfer report, which allowed for comparing military size and national defense spending among countries. In 2022, the Department of State announced it would no longer produce the annual report. The Central Intelligence Agency publishes similar data.

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