The US military’s readiness to respond to current and future threats depends on the quality and availability of military forces—personnel, weapon systems such as ships and aircraft, and other material resources such as ammunition and fuel. In turn, the quality and availability of military forces depend on the support infrastructure. The military uses that support infrastructure—such as bases, depots, and schools—to recruit personnel, train units for deployment, acquire and maintain equipment, construct facilities, provide health care, facilitate communications, and more.
From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) funding for support functions rose substantially relative to funding for forces. The ratio of funding for support to funding for forces has fluctuated since then, but it has not returned to the lower levels experienced through much of the 1980s. Policymakers have expressed concerns about the increases in support funding, and this report examines trends in funding for forces and support activities—during periods of both peacetime and war (particularly the current post–9/11 period)—in order to identify potential areas for further analysis.