November 15, 2016

Outline of Numbers mentioned for a Trump Defense Buildup

President Elect Trump wants an even larger military than we have now, modernized and in some cases larger than at any time since Vietnam. There were various numbers mentioned during the campaign but it is not clear what will actually be implemented.

The USA currently spends more than two and a half times more on defense than China, and about ten times as much as Russia.

Every indication is that Trump’s defense spending would increase defense spending by a considerable margin—perhaps as much as $100 billion annually in today’s dollars. Trump has promised to unlock $50 billion a year by killing 2013’s federal budget sequestration, but the rest of the increase would have to come through taxed economic growth or other federal programs—or both.

Trump has promised increases in troop strength across the Pentagon, campaigning to reverse the post-Afghanistan downsizing of the U.S. Army, which is scheduled to drop to 460,000 active duty soldiers in 2017. Trump wants an Army of 540,000, a number that according to his campaign web site the Army needs to “execute current missions,” despite what the Army itself might actually say.



The Army’s metric for combat strength is in the form of brigade combat teams (BCTs). Each BCT has between 3,000 to 5,000 personnel, and up to three hundred tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, Stryker armored vehicles, and howitzers. Trump’s boost would likely take the Army from a current 30 BCTs to roughly 36. To put that into perspective, at the height of the “surge” 13 Army BCTs were deployed to Iraq.

Trump has vowed to increase the size of the Navy from 272 to 350 warships.

Ideally the Navy would like to see more attack submarines to maintain a decisive lead over Russian and Chinese fleets, while the Marines would like to see more amphibious ships like the America and San Antonio class ships. What the Navy is really missing is smaller ships on the low-end like the controversial Littoral Combat Ship. Those could be built in large numbers but hull and propulsion problems, as well as lack of progress on equipment sets allowing them to carry out anti-surface, anti-submarine, and anti-mine missions make it difficult to justify buying more of them.

Trump’s Marine Corps would grow to from 24 to 36 infantry battalions. The Marines, which have recently stood up new units for Central Command, Africa, Norway and the Black Sea region, could use the manpower—but is it too much? That’s enough to equip four full-size marine divisions, more than any time since the Vietnam War, and would make the Marines approximately one-third the size of the new, bigger US Army.

Trump’s plan for the Air Force is vague.

Trump told the New York Times in March that “we have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape.” All three elements of the nuclear triad are in the process of being modernized or replaced. The cost of overhauling the U.S. nuclear arsenal could cost up to one trillion dollars.



America’s vast network of military bases abroad could also be cut. Trump has stated he is dissatisfied with how little countries like Japan and South Korea were paying the U.S. to help with their defense, and has suggested he could shutter bases in both countries. He has claimed that NATO is “obsolete” and that its member states don’t contribute enough to collective defense, indicating he’s willing to walk away from the alliance—and American bases in Europe—if the rest of NATO doesn’t pony up.

SOURCES- Foxtrot Alpha

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