Feeds

US Forces 'black' budget = 2nd biggest military on Earth

Secret space programme bigger than NASA

Mobile application security vulnerability report

There's controversy already in America regarding the first Obama administration detailed Defense budget plans, announced yesterday. Some are painting the plans as a cuts package, others disagree. What's clear is that the US military's top-secret (or "black") budget is now on the same level as the whole of UK defence spending - and the UK has the second biggest defence budget in the world.

According to veteran black-budget watcher and secret-plane journalist Bill Sweetman, editor of Defense Technology International, the planned black budget for fiscal year 2010 is just over $50bn. That's about £33bn at current rates, a bit less than the total UK defence budget - but only a bit. It wouldn't be inaccurate in money terms to say that one could rank the top few armed forces in the world thus:

1) Mainstream US armed forces $490bn-odd

2) UK armed forces $60bn

3) Chinese armed forces $58bn

4) French armed forces $54bn

5) "Black" US forces $50bn+

6) Japanese Self-Defence forces $44bn

And indeed there's probably more secret US military funding than this. The US government declines to disclose exactly what the CIA's budget is, but both the Agency and other non-military spooks do get money of their own. Some of this is spent on military or quasi-military activities: for example the CIA were heavily involved in development of the famous SR-71 "Blackbird" turbo-ramjet spy plane back in the Cold War, and it was sometimes flown by CIA pilots.

Likewise the CIA is known to have deployed significant numbers of armed "paramilitary" operatives on foreign soil from time to time - sometimes local mercenaries, sometimes US personnel. It's an open secret that the agency has a significant fleet of armed Predator drones which it uses to eliminate people in places like Yemen and Pakistan.

So one could probably add at least a few CIA paramilitary billions to the Defense black budget, putting the US secret forces up in the number three or even two spot. To be sure, much of the secret cash - probably a majority - is nowadays spent building and operating spy satellites, which aren't weapons in a conventional sense.

Even so, that in itself is fairly jaw-dropping. Say $20bn or $30bn for the black space programme, then - and compare that to the entire NASA budget for 2008, at just over $17bn.

However you slice it, America's secret services alone are a fairly high-ranking world power in their own right - and nobody except them (and perhaps a few politicians in Washington) has a good handle on what they're doing. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.