Military spending is the amount of financial resources allocated by a government to provide its military with weapons, equipment, and compensation for soldiers.
However, when it comes to the specific study of such spending, definitions vary according to the type of actor who actually defines the term based on its direct and indirect linked interests. The GCOMS campaign is based on data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). According to SIPRI, military expenditure takes on a broader definition and includes “all spending on current military forces and activities.”
More often than not, it is difficult to obtain precise data corresponding to the SIPRI definition; and in this case, SIPRI‘s priority is to first construct data series that are consistent over time for each country, and then to supplement the series with data that corresponds as closely as possible to the SIPRI definition.
SIPRI data in SIPRI Database come from three different sources:
(1) Primary Sources: official data provided by national governments, through outlets of official publications or in response to questionnaires, including national budget documents, defense white papers, public finance statistics as well as responses to an annual SIPRI questionnaire sent out to finance and defense ministries, central banks, and national statistical offices of the countries included in the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database. Primary sources also include government responses to questionnaires about military expenditure sent out by the United Nations, and, if made available by the countries themselves, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
(2) Secondary Sources: data based on primary sources, including international statistics, such as those made available through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The data for the 16 pre-1999 NATO member states has traditionally been acquired from military expenditure statistics published in a number of NATO publications. NATO has introduced a new definition of military expenditure in 2005, which has resulted in the incorporation and reliance on other sources for data on some NATO member countries in recent years. The data for some developing countries is acquired from the IMF’s Government Finance Statistics Yearbook, which provides a defense heading for most IMF member countries, and from country reports by IMF staff. Other commonly used secondary sources include data from the Asia Development Bank, the UN Statistical Yearbook (UNSY), the Europa Yearbook, the German Central Statistical Office’s ‘Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Ausland’, and Country Reports of the Economist Intelligence Unit. UNSY, the Europa Yearbook and the ‘Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Ausland’ are only used for data up to the early 1990s, as later editions did not include military spending data.
(3) Other secondary sources: data published in specialist journals and media articles.