The US military has essentially the same size, force structure and capabilities as it did a decade ago but costs 35% more, an independent public policy think tank said on Monday in an analysis of the 2012 defence budget.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a 75-page report, also said the Defence Department had spent some $46 billion over the past decade developing weapons systems that were ultimately never fielded, either due to cost overruns or technical challenges.
As a result, a significant portion of the Pentagon's effort to modernize its weapons systems did not result in force modernization, a task that will now have to be undertaken at a time of shrinking defense budgets.
"This was the opportunity of the decade, to really recapitalise and modernise the military's equipment and that has been squandered," said Todd Harrison, who authored the report.
With the US facing unsustainable trillion-dollar budget deficits, president Barack Obama has asked the defense department to cut some $400 billion in spending over the next dozen years. Some defense officials fear there may be a further request for additional cuts. At the same time, the military faces significant capital equipment requirements in the coming years.