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Trump Boosts Defense Budget Request For Missile Defense, Ship Repairs And Expanding Afghan War Strategy
President Donald Trump has boosted his defense budget request, asking for Congress to consider more money for missile defense, repairs for Navy ships and resources to fund an expanded war strategy in South Asia.
Trump on Nov. 6 asked to amend an earlier 2018 defense budget request by allocating an additional $4 billion for missile defense, $1.2 billion for the administration’s new Afghanistan effort and another $700 million for Navy ship repairs.
The new missile defense funding will address an increasing threat from North Korea, Trump said.
“This request supports additional efforts to detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies, or partners,” Trump said in the amendment request, which came in the form of a letter sent late Monday to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republica from Wisconsin.
Earlier this year, Trump proposed a defense budget of $668 billion, a 5 percent increase above last year’s spending plan. But in light of a military readiness crisis, ongoing safety concerns, and an expanding war strategy, some congressional defense hawks have said the president's plan didn’t go far enough.
On Nov. 6, the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees said the timing of Trump’s letter means the proposals can be incorporated into ongoing negotiation talks for the defense bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act.
“We welcome the president’s amendment to his initial defense budget request and look forward to giving it the serious consideration it deserves,” Sen. John McCain, Republican from Arizona, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, Republican from Texas, said in a joint statement. “The additional request would provide resources to support our renewed efforts in Afghanistan and much-needed funding to repair the Navy ships damaged in recent collisions at sea.”
In July, the House approved a $696 billion defense budget, while the Senate approved a nearly $700 billion plan in September. Either would require congressional action to exceed current budget caps that limit defense spending to $549 billion for the 2018 fiscal year.
Both plans went further than the original Trump request. For example, the Senate bill allocates $8.5 billion for missile defense, which was $630 million more than what was originally requested by the Trump administration.
“The House and Senate Armed Services committees have already authorized many of these missile defense programs in our respective defense bills,” McCain and Thornberry said.
Trump’s letter also addressed the costly and extensive damage seen in separate deadly crashes involving the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald during the summer.
“The request also includes the costs necessary to repair damage to and restore the operational readiness of the USS John S. McCain and the USS Fitzgerald,” Trump said. “These ships provide critical naval presence and additional ballistic missile defense capabilities in the Asia-Pacific theater.”
Trump said the requests for missile defense and Navy ship repairs should be considered emergency funding. The South Asia plan, he said, can be paid for with money from the separate Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which isn’t subject to budget cap requirements.
Separately, Trump said the $1.2 billion for his South Asia strategy will address the increase in troops needed in Afghanistan. Trump unveiled his plans to boost U.S. forces there earlier this year.
Initially, Trump had declined to discuss more troops for Afghanistan, but Pentagon officials have since said the plans would increase the number of servicemembers there by at least 3,500.
Trump confirmed that figure on Nov. 6.
“The additional resources would enable [the Defense Department] to deploy an additional 3,500 troops, and includes funding for urgent needs and special operations forces capabilities,” he said.
The same letter also said Congress needed to look at his border wall request, which at $1.6 billion would be a down payment for the effort, Trump said.
For now, McCain and Thornberry said they were pleased they could consider Trump’s plan to increase defense spending.
“The timely submission of this budget amendment means that the NDAA conferees will be able to consider this request in time to incorporate the additional funding into the final agreement,” they said.
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.