REagan Proposes $180 Billion Increase in Defense Spending

O'Coonor with Reagan

President Reagan proposed the largest peacetime military build-up in US history, 180 billion dollar expansion over a six year period. The build-up included the B-1 bomber, the B-2 stealth bomber and an array of conventional weapons programs. Part of the build-up included the beginning of the Star Wars Defensive Missile program, which was highly controversial.

President Reagan had come to office pledging to increase defense spending to meet what he perceived as a growing Soviet threat. In his 1982 budget proposal, he convinced the Congress to increase defense spending by 13%. With the increased spending came a number of new weapons systems including the B1 and B2 bombers. Stealth technology was being developed and deployed. AS part of the defense authorization was also the first money to evaluate the various proposal to create what was then called SDI, Strategic Defense Initiative. That idea to develop systems capable of defending the US from nuclear attack was first announced publicly in 1983 by Reagan.

All of the new American systems had one thing in common, greater use of electronics to produce more accurate lighter weapons. The American arms buildup combined with the victory of Israel over the Soviets anti-aircraft systems in Syria in 1982 convinced the Soviet military that it would be challenging to compete with the US military. These factors were the reason that the Soviet military supported Glasnost, the opening up of the Soviet economy. That they believed would be the only way for the Soviets Union was to compete was to have a different economic system.