World military spending declines, a first since 1998

Last year marked a "shift in the balance of world military spending." Find out why.

For the first time in 13 years, military spending worldwide declined.

A new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that world military expenditures were $1.75 trillion in 2012. But while it's certainly a hefty total, it's a 0.5 percent decrease in total spending compared to 2011.

Cuts in military spending by Western military powers -- from the United States to Western European countries -- are responsible for reversing the trend but the decline would have been deeper if not for increased spending in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America.

"We are seeing what may be the beginning of a shift in the balance of world military spending from the rich Western countries to emerging regions, as austerity policies and the drawdown in Afghanistan reduce spending in the former, while economic growth funds continuing increases elsewhere," said Sam Perlo-Freeman, Director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme, in a statement. "However, the USA and its allies are still responsible for the great majority of world military spending. The NATO members together spent a trillion dollars."

Also notable is the fact that the total share of world military spending by the U.S. dropped below 40 percent for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Here's a look at the world's biggest military spenders in 2012:

Go here and here to access more data on global military spending.

Photo: Unites States soldiers board a plane taking them home. U.S. Army/Flickr

Chart: SIPRI

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com