Courtesy Reuters

The Soviet Military Budget

The Soviet Union does not conceal its expenditures for defense, because all mankind knows of the peaceable character of the Soviet Government.

-"Finansy S.S.S.R." ("Finance of the U.S.S.R.," a textbook for schools of higher education), Moscow, 1958, p. 285.

THE great development of modern weapons of mass destruction has caused enormous changes in military science including military doctrine and military strategy. However, these changes have not affected the concept of the military budget. Today, as in the past, the military budget, approved by appropriate organs of the state, indicates to a certain extent the defense effort of the nation. On the basis of the analysis below, it appears that, as a percentage of Gross National Product (for the U.S.S.R.- national income), the Soviet military budget is about double that of the United States.

The national defense power and the military budget are indivisible. Therefore it is important to establish the size of the Soviet military budget as a first step in the discussion of the problems of disarmament and the possible reduction of the defense budget. However, the solution of this problem is difficult because the Soviet Union is a closed society and has drawn one of the tightest security screens in history around its military affairs and related technology and industry upon which its military power is based.

The two paramount purposes of the obfuscation are, first, to sustain the Soviet propaganda front, such as the totally false claims of lowered military expenditures in recent years; and, second, to conceal the exact nature of their military build-up and the real size of the over-all military budget.

The curtailment of the published indicators concerning the Soviet military budget has taken place gradually. In the mid-1920s, Soviet military expenditures were divided into nine major groups, such as salaries, organizational and administrative expenses, clothing-subsistence costs, technical supply, cultural and educational expenses, finance of defense industry, etc., which were in turn subdivided into 79 individual entries.

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