Global military spending hit a new high last year, inching up 1.3% to reach a staggering $1.6 trillion, according to a Swedish think tank. The increase itself, however, is one of the lower hikes in years, a slowdown caused by the economic crisis in many Western nations. US military spending rose 2.8%, reaching $698 billion, a significant climb, but well below 2009's increase of 7.7%. All told, US military spending has soared 81% since 2001, and now accounts for 4.8% of America's GDP.
In contrast, spending in Europe fell 2.8% to $382 billion. "In many cases, the falls or slower increases represent a delayed reaction to the global financial and economic crisis that broke in 2008," wrote the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in a statement. China is the No. 2 country for military spending, but expenditures still amount to just one-sixth what the US spends. For the full story, check out the Reuters report. (Read more military spending stories.)