President Trump is asking for $716 billion in defense spending in 2019, a 13 percent increase over 2017, as part of a costly effort to retool the U.S. military to deter and, if necessary, fight major powers such as Russia and China.
The budget gives the Pentagon all of the money it has been asking for in recent years as it struggled to maintain the force under congressionally mandated budget caps. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was flying to Rome for defense ministerial meetings, described the budget as “quite an achievement for the president” that will return the United States to a “position of primacy.”
The United States already spends more on its military than the next eight nations combined.
The Trump plan provides more money for just about everything a general or admiral might desire. Some of the additional money, including $70 million on training of sailors and new ship equipment, is being set aside to fix pressing needs. U.S. Navy ships have suffered a series of deadly accidents at sea in the last year.
Trump has spoken often about the need to modernize the nuclear arsenal to ensure that the United States remains “the most powerful nation in the world.” The current budget sets aside $24 billion for all three of the legs — submarine, land-based and air — of America’s nuclear triad.
To put America’s eastern European allies at ease and deter Russia, Trump’s budget request includes more than $6.3 billion for a multiyear program that will send additional U.S. combat equipment to places such as Poland and Estonia.
The biggest and fastest growing expense for the Pentagon has long been personnel, which will continue to accelerate under Trump’s budget. The Pentagon has received authorization to add 16,400 troops to its ranks beyond the level authorized by Congress for 2018.
Some of those additional troops will fill gaps in existing combat formations, such as infantry brigades, and others will add new capabilities for the forces, such as cyber troops.