U.S. Security Spending Since 9/11

May 26, 2011

Key Findings:

  • The United States has spent more than $7.6 trillion on defense and homeland security since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • Total homeland security spending since September 11, 2001 is $635.9 billion.

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The killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. special forces prompted a great many questions about the continued U.S. war in Afghanistan, and how much the United States has spent on “security” since the attacks on September 11, 2001. National Priorities Project has the numbers. In all, the U.S. government has spent more than $7.6 trillion on defense and homeland security since the 9/11 attacks.

The table below summarizes the spending. It is followed by a more detailed narrative.



Total Spending

(FY 2012 dollars)


2001 Amount


2011 Amount

% Increase


Pentagon Base Budget $5.6 trillion $290.5 billion $526.1 billion 43 percent
Nuclear Weapons $230.3 billion $12.4 billion $19.0 billion 21 percent
Iraq and Afghan Wars $1.36 trillion      
Homeland Security $635.9 billion* $16 billion $69.1 billion 301 percent

*NOTE: This figure includes $163.8 billion funded through the Pentagon's "base" budget. Total "non-defense" homeland security spending is $472.1 billion (see "Homeland Security" below).

Total Defense Spending – Between 2001 and 2011 the United States spent $7.2 trillion dollars (in constant FY2012 dollars) on defense, including the Pentagon’s annual base budget, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nuclear weapons-related activities of the Department of Energy (Function 050). See below for a breakout of the base budget, nuclear weapons, and war costs.  

  • The Pentagon’s “base” budget – The Pentagon’s annual budget (Function 051) – not including war costs or DoE’s nuclear weapons activities – grew from $290.5 billion in FY2000, to $526.1 billion in FY2011. That’s a nominal increase of $235.6 billion (or 81 percent) and a “real” (inflation-adjusted) increase of $160.3 billion, or 43 percent. 
  • Department of Energy – Annual funding for the nuclear weapons activities rose more slowly between FY2000 and FY2011, from $12.4 billion to $19.0 billion. That’s a nominal increase of $6.6 billion (or 53 percent) and a “real” increase of $3.3 billion, or 21 percent. 
  • War Costs – The total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the Department of Defense and all other federal agencies (Department of State, USAID, etc.) will reach $1.26 trillion by the end of the current fiscal year (FY 2011) on September 30, 2011. Of this, $797.3 billion is for Iraq, and $459.8 billion is for Afghanistan. In constant FY2012 dollars, the totals through FY2011 are $1.36 trillion, $869 billion for Iraq and $487.6 billion for Afghanistan.

These figures, or ones like them, are well known and fairly simple to track. Both the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provide data on Pentagon and other military-related spending as part of the annual federal budget request released in February each year. The Congressional Research Service does an excellent job of analyzing the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. NPP also does its own war cost analysis on its “Cost of War” website.

Homeland Security – One security spending figure that isn’t well known is the amount the U.S. government has spent to date on “homeland security.”  This is because homeland security funding flows through literally dozens of federal agencies and not just through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For example, of the $71.6 billion requested for “homeland security” in FY2012, only $37 billion is funded through DHS. A substantial part is funded through the Department of Defense – $18.1 billion in FY2012 – and others, including Health and Human Services ($4.6 billion) and the Department of Justice ($4.1 billion).

Because tracking homeland security funding is so difficult, starting back in FY2003 OMB began looking across the entire budget and providing summary tables of the annual request by agency. This analysis does not, however, provide historical data nor any cumulative funding figures. By going back and reviewing each annual request, however, NPP has been able to determine total government homeland security funding since the September 11 attacks.

Funding for homeland security has risen from $16 billion in FY2001 to $71.6 billion requested for FY2012. Adjusted for inflation, the United States has spent $635.9 billion on homeland security since FY2001. Of this $163.8 billion has been funded within the Pentagon’s annual budget. The remaining $472.1 billion has been funded through other federal agencies. For full details of the FY2012 homeland security request, see the “Homeland Security Mission Funding by Agency and Budget Account” appendix to the FY2012 budget.