Feeds

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

Secret space programme bigger than NASA

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?