At this point, it’s been well documented that much of what President Donald Trump says can’t necessarily be taken at face value. But at the Defense Department, top leaders are apparently assuming that when the new president promises to pour money into the military, he really means it.
Leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning before the House Armed Services Committee, and they will be bringing a $30 billion wish list with them, according to the Associated Press.
The Army is seeking an additional $8.2 billion for modernization and training, according to the Associated Press. A large share of the money will be spent on new attack and transport helicopters. A smaller fraction of the funds would be earmarked for improved training.
The Navy wants $12 billion to spend on two dozen new F-18 fighter jets, sidewinder missiles, and a new amphibious landing dock ship. The Air Force is seeking a relatively modest $6.2 billion for new F-35 fighters and other “unfunded priorities.”
The Marine Corps is asking for $4.2 billion, largely to handle costs associated with maintaining readiness in a time of frequent deployments, and to free up funding for a modernization effort.
When the generals and admirals appear before Congress, they’ll do so secure in the knowledge that their requests for additional funding come with the express support of the White House.
On Monday, speaking at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, Trump promised, “We will make a historic financial investment in the Armed Forces of the United States and show the entire world that America stands with those who stand in defense of freedom.”
Speaking to the Air Force, in particular, he said, “We're going to be loading it up with beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment. You have been lacking a little equipment. We are going to load it up. You are going to get a lot of equipment. Believe me.”
Trump’s promises of lavish spending on the armed forces are in keeping with his campaign promises, but they represent a sharp break from recent years when Congress and the Obama administration battled over government spending and the deficit.
Trump has not given any indication of how he plans to fund the coming expansion of the military.