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US President Promises Historic Increase in Military Budget | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US President Donald Trump. Reuters

Washington – US President Donald Trump promised a “historic” $54bllion increase in the US military budget for 2018, which includes a nearly 10 percent increase in defense spending.

Trump told state governors at the White House his budget plan included a “historic increase in defense-spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America.”

He said his proposal was a “landmark event” and would send a message of “American strength, security and resolve” to other countries.

He said during the meeting with state governors at the White House on Monday: “I saw a chart the other day — as of about a month ago, $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East — $6 trillion. And I want to tell you, that’s just unacceptable. And we’re nowhere. Actually, if you think about it, we’re less than nowhere. The Middle East is far worse than it was 16 to 17 years ago.”

However, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said the plan would bring the Pentagon’s budget to $603 billion in total, just 3% more than the $584 billion the agency spent in the most recent fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, 2016.

The rise would be slightly higher than the country’s current 2.5 percent rate of inflation.

For her part, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with ABC News Sunday that, “practically speaking, Donald Trump has done nothing other than stir up drama during the first month of his administration. No infrastructure bill, no health care fix, no tax reforms.”

Pelosi stated that it’s “a normal thing” for House Democrats to bring “guests” to Trump’s address, taking place Tuesday evening.

“I myself would bring a guest who is a dreamer,” she explained. “I would bring a guest who has lost her son to gun violence. I’ll bring a guest who is a symbol of the freedom of press, which the president, in his authoritarian manner, is attacking.”

Trump has said previously he would expand the Army to 540,000 active-duty troops from its current 480,000, increase the Marine Corps to 36 battalions from 23 – or as many as 10,000 more Marines – boost the Navy to 350 ships and submarines from 276, and raise the number of Air Force tactical aircraft to 1,200 from 1,100.

He has not said where he would place the extra hardware and forces or made clear what they would be used for.

On the other hand, Trump is planning to outline an ambitious first-year agenda tackling everything from immigration to infrastructure when he delivers his first address to a Joint Session of Congress Tuesday night, the White House said.

The White House detailed Trump’s highly anticipated address on Monday, outlining what will be the president’s biggest speech since his inauguration.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump will push a “bold agenda,” while another White House official described it as an “optimistic” look toward the next four years.