Trump’s 2018 Defense Budget – Another Con Job

Trump’s 2018 Defense Budget – Another Con Job

© David Burton 2017

The Second Amendment


     “America’s once unequalled military prowess has deteriorated markedly in recent years. It is critical that this trend be reversed – and reversed quickly. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen are being overworked and their numbers are dwindling. Our military equipment is old and tired and there are fewer and fewer of these weapon systems. The introduction of innovative new weapon technologies has slowed as defense budgets have shrunk as a percentage of GDP. Our defense industry has contracted, critical skills are being lost and companies are loathe to do business that involves government bureaucracies and inane regulations. At the same time, our potential adversaries are rapidly increasing their defense budgets, adding to the size of their militaries, modernizing their arsenals, and they are growing increasingly aggressive.” (Ref. 1)

     Over the past decade, cuts in defense spending and the failure to adequately fund our military needs during a period of ongoing wars against terrorism, and the threats from powerful potential adversaries has been disastrous. “. . . As former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta explained in 2015, these cuts to defense spending have put us on the path to the smallest Army since before World War II, the smallest Navy since World War I, and the smallest Air Force ever. [Emphasis mine} . . .
     “Our Army has shrunk by nearly 100,000 troops. The Army has lost 13 combat brigades, and only a third of the remaining brigades are fully ready to meet America’s threats. Further, investments in modernization have fallen by 25%. If we continue on the current path, the Army will lose another 70,000 soldiers and every modernization program designed to preserve the Army’s technological edge will be eviscerated.
     “The Navy, meanwhile, has had to cancel five ship deployments and significantly delay the deployment of a carrier strike group. The Navy’s mission requires it to keep three carrier strike groups and amphibious readiness groups prepared to respond to a major crisis within 30 days, but the Navy can only fulfill a third of this mission because of cuts to maintenance and training.
     “Similarly, the Air Force is less than a third of its size 25 years ago. Moreover, the Air Force depends on modernization to preserve its technological edge perhaps more than any other service. But current funding levels could require cancellation of airborne-refueling tankers and surveillance aircraft, set back fighter and nuclear-weapons modernization, and shorten the life of tactical airlift and weapons-recovery programs.
     “Nor are these impacts just immediate; they will be felt long into the future. Key programs, once divested, will be difficult to restart. Manufacturing competencies will be lost, the skilled-labor pool will shrink, and the defense-manufacturing base will atrophy. Today’s weapons systems and equipment will age and begin to breakdown. Our troops won’t be able to train and their weapons and equipment won’t be ready for the fight. In short, we will have a hollow force, incapable of defending our national security.” (Ref. 2)

     “Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 23 that the first of the ‘principal’ constitutional obligations of the federal government is to provide for the ‘common defense’ of the United States, and President George Washington wisely reminded us that ‘To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.’
     “At the {middle} of 2017, we here in America would be wise to take heed of these admonitions. The world around is becoming increasingly dangerous and our ability to counter these dangers is being seriously called into question. Uncertainty as to America’s ability to defend itself in a dangerous world is not conducive to peace and tranquility.
     “According to the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, the strength of the U.S. military {in 2016 was} rated as: Army – Weak; Navy – Marginal; Air Force – Marginal; Marines – Marginal, Nuclear Force – Marginal. The following are rated as posing a high threat: Russia; Iran; Middle East Terrorism; African-Pakistani Terrorism; China; North Korea.
      - - -
     “With funding deficiencies and an ongoing need for combat force deployment worldwide in response to the growing number of threats, our military has declined in combat readiness. This decline is undermining the U.S. military’s ability to protect U.S. interests. This trend must be reversed and the start of this reversal lies in the hands of the President and Congress who determine the military’s funding. They have an obligation to learn from history rather than repeat past mistakes of allowing military readiness to decline to a point that puts the lives of service members and U.S. national interests at risk.” (Ref. 3)

     Back in October of 2012, I wrote that: (Ref. 4) “Today, we have ‘a military inventory largely composed of weapons designed forty to fifty years ago. The average age of our tanker aircraft is 47 years, of strategic bombers 34 years. While the weapons in our arsenal remain formidable, they are well along on the path to obsolescence. Along with the aging process, there has been a precipitous decline in sheer numbers. The U.S. Navy has only 284 ships today, on track to hit the lowest level since 1916. [Emphasis mine] Given current trends, the number will decline {further.} . . . Our naval planners indicate we need 328 ships to fulfill the Navy’s role of global presence and power projection in defense of American security. Our Air Force, which had 82 fighter squadrons at the end of the Cold War, has been reduced to 39 today." [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 5) By 2014, the situation had not improved and we read that “the Army {was} on track to be the size it was in 1940, the Navy to be the size it was in 1917, the Air Force to be smaller than in 1947 and our nuclear arsenal to be no larger than it was under President Harry S. Truman.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 6) Today, in mid-2017, there still is no improvement – sequestration since 2011 has seen to that!


     As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to massively increase defense spending. In September 2016, at a Union League campaign speech, Trump “vowed . . . to boost defense spending and deploy more active troops, fighter planes, Navy ships and submarines as he work{ed} to convince skeptics in both parties that {he was} ready to lead the world’s most powerful military.
      - - -
     “Trump’s Union League address also included his plans to eliminate deep spending cuts, known as the ‘sequester,’ enacted when Congress failed to reach a budget compromise in 2011. Republicans and Democrats voted for the automatic, across-the board cuts that affected both military and domestic programs.
     “Military leaders have said that they can live with an active duty Army of 490,000 _ bolstered by nearly 500,000 soldiers in the National Guard and Reserves _ as long as Congress provides enough funding to support that troop level. Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, said last month that he is comfortable with a 1 million-soldier Army, and would welcome a larger force, only if Congress provides the money to maintain troop readiness.
     “Increasing the size without increase other support, he said, will decrease readiness and hollow out the force.
      - - -
     “Trump’s proposal to lift the sequester limits on military spending won praise from Republicans on Capitol Hill . . .” (Ref. 7)

     Soon after assuming office in February 2017, “Making his first official visit to the headquarters of the U.S. Central Command, President Trump told troops . . . that he is ‘100%’ behind them in the fight against ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’
     " ‘To these forces of death and destruction, America and its allies will defeat you,’ Trump said during a visit to MacDill Air Force base in Tampa, Fla.
      - - -
     “The president echoed some of his campaign promises in saying he would supply military forces with ‘the finest equipment known to man’" and challenge other nations in NATO and other alliances to pay more for U.S. defense assistance. “(Ref. 8)

     Two months into his role as commander in chief, Donald Trump claimed to have followed through on his campaign promise to increase defense spending. In early March 2017, “Donald Trump stood aboard America's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier . . . and declared that it's only a down payment on a future 'great rebuilding of the United States military.'
     “Calling his plan 'a major expansion' of U.S. military might, he said it includes 'having the 12-carrier Navy we need.'
     “America's fleet of aircraft carriers is presently two short of that number, comprised of older 'Nimitz-class' vessels. Adding just one more after the Ford would get Trump to an even dozen. {Let’s remember that the Gerald R. Ford was funded and under construction long before Trump ran for president}
     “The president praised the builders of the USS Gerald R. Ford and promised that 'we're going to soon have more coming.'
     “ 'We're going to have the finest equipment in the world. Planes, ships and everything else,' he pledged.
      - - -
     “Trump vowed that any nation who dared to challenge his Pentagon's power would be 'in big, big trouble' and that he would deliver 'more aircraft' and 'modernized capabilities.'
      - - -
     “He {was} in coastal Virginia to make the case for a major buildup of the nation's military, beginning a trend that will {supposedly} add 80 new ships to the U.S. Navy's current complement of about 270.
      - - -
     “A draft budget plan released earlier this week by the White House would add $54 billion to the Pentagon's projected budget, a 10 percent increase.
     “ 'To keep America safe, we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war – if they must – they have to fight and they only have to win,' Trump said in his address to Congress . . .
     “ 'I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.'
     “Trump, in his 2016 campaign, repeatedly pledged to rebuild what he called the nation's 'depleted' military and told supporters at Regent University in Virginia Beach in October that the region's naval installations would be 'right at the center of the action with the building of new ships.'
     “He often argued that the U.S. military was too small to accomplish its missions and pledged to put the Navy on track to increase its active-duty fleet to 350 ships, compared to the current Navy plan of growing from 272 ships to 17 sometime after 2020.
     “Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress, his first as president, included his past calls for repealing the 'defense sequester,' or across-the-board budget cuts instituted by Congress.
     “He will need the repeal to achieve the kinds of increased defense spending that he is seeking.” (Ref. 9)


     When the White House announced its full 2018 defense budget in late-May 2017, it became clear that the proposed funds are not anywhere enough to match the "massive" military buildup loudly trumpeted by President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign and after his election.

     Even before the final version of the budget became public, “House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry . . . warned that ‘the budget outline that [the Office of Management and Budget released that total national defense baseline spending would be $603 billion]… is not enough to keep the promises the president has made to fix our military and to expand.’ [Emphasis mine]
     “Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments research fellow Katherine Blakeley {made} a similar assessment, saying Trump's ‘historic characterization of [the military buildup] is largely marketing smoke and mirrors.’ [Emphasis mine]
     “She explained that about $36 billion of the $54 billion the administration claims as an increase will go to military priorities that were already penciled in from last year's Obama administration budget.
     “In addition, CNN reported that Defense Secretary James Mattis has privately told congressmen that Trump's proposed Pentagon budget falls short of covering the total cost of his promised rebuild.
     “Thornberry and Sen. John McCain have both insisted that a $640 billion baseline national defense budget is the minimum needed for an effective buildup.
     “Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation director Thomas Spoehr agreed with that view, telling the Examiner that ‘when you get much less than that [$640 billion], your aspirations have to get ratcheted way back.’ “ (Ref. 10)

     On 23 May 2017, “President Donald Trump delivered his 2018 budget request to Congress . . . and as expected, the defense portion is not enough to initiate the military buildup that the president had called for. [Emphasis mine]
     “Aligning closely with the president’s so-called ‘skinny budget’ issued earlier this year, this proposal calls for $603 billion in base defense discretionary spending and $65 billion for overseas contingency operations.
     “While this is a $54 billion increase over the spending levels mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act, it is actually only a timid $16.8 billion (or 3.3 percent) increase over President Barack Obama’s budget plan. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “Some might argue that military rebuilding should wait until the new administration completes its defense strategy review. But that argument overlooks just how far the military has sunk in terms of size and capability. The military is in such a deep hole, there is no reasonable danger that, by starting to rebuild now, the nation will “overshoot” the target and acquire more capability than it could possibly need. [Emphasis mine]
     “Yet the president’s budget adopts this wait-and-see strategy, asking for a small increase for fiscal year 2018 while increasing projected defense funding over the next decade only at the expected rate of inflation, 2 percent.
      - - -
     “{Trump’s budget} request is concerning because it might indicate that the administration does not yet fully grasp what resources are required to fulfill Trump’s promise of rebuilding the military. Maintaining the status quo is not a recipe for success in this endeavor. [Emphasis mine]
     “As The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength illustrates, the size, capabilities, and readiness of all the armed services have been declining for years. [Emphasis mine]
     “For instance, only one-third of Army forces were ready for action in April 2016, and the Navy is not on course to meet its desired 355 ships. The Air Force is also struggling, as it faces a shortage of 700 fighter pilots and 4,000 maintenance personnel.
      - - -
     “Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have both put forward budgetary solutions that recognize the reality of the challenges facing the armed services. . .
     “All in all, the proposed budget for the military is a step toward rebuilding our military—albeit a timid step. It will take more work and resources for Trump to be able to fulfill the promise of a historic military buildup.” (Ref. 11)


     “Mr. Trump characterized his Defense Department budget request as historic.

     “ ‘I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.’
     “This is exaggerated. [Emphasis mine] Mr. Trump’s proposal to add $54 billion to the Pentagon’s budget amounts to a 10 percent increase, a significant but not historic rise. {Remember, about $36 billion of the $54 were already penciled in from last year's Obama administration budget.}
     “Todd Harrison, the director for defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, posted {a} chart on Twitter, showing at least 10 higher increases since the 1977 fiscal year and four since 2002. [Emphasis mine]
     “And this calculus does not take into account Overseas Contingency Operations, a separate bucket of money used to fund wars. Factoring in war spending, Mr. Trump’s claim is even less credible.
     “Richard Kogan, a federal budget expert at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, calculated 27 years since 1940 in which total military spending was as high or higher than Mr. Trump’s proposed increase. Even taking into account major and minor wars, military spending increased by 10 to 15 percent every year but one from 1975 to 1985.
     “ ‘Outside major and minor wars, it’s still not true,’ Kogan said. ‘As a percent of G.D.P., there have been roughly 35 years — half the time — when the increase has been as large or larger than what Trump is calling for.’ ”(Ref. 12)

The Real Facts About the Army’s Budget

     “The Trump administration’s 2018 fiscal year budget proposal for the Army would give the service a modest $7 billion increase over the 2017 enacted levels, which officials say will maintain readiness and grow the size of the force, but leave little funding to procure new platforms.
      - - -
     “Maj. Gen. Thomas A. Horlander, Army budget director, said in a briefing to reporters that the 2018 request ‘starts to arrest the Army’s readiness decline and sets the conditions for improving the future readiness of the force.’ That decline began at the outset of the Budget Control Act in 2012, he said. The Army’s end strength would be the same as the 2017 enacted levels      {NOTE: The statement says that the proposed Trump budget “starts to arrest the Army’s readiness decline and sets the conditions for improving the future readiness of the force.” It does not say it will reverse the readiness decline and it says the budget will only set the conditions for improving the future readiness, not improve the future readiness}
     “However, recruiting, paying, equipping and training this force came at a cost to the procurement of big-ticket military hardware programs. After requesting the funds to fully man, train and equip formations and give them adequate infrastructure, ‘only a small portion of the growth remained to apply to our future modernization accounts,’ Horlander said.
     “Hamilton Cook, senior market analyst at Avascent, said the budget fits with the message the Army has been putting out — that the service is at an all-time low in readiness. [Emphasis mine] He was surprised that the regular Army number is holding steady at 476,000. The administration and several think tanks want that to eventually be around 540,000.
     “ ‘We’re still looking at the same force size as we had last year, so it will be interesting to see how the Army decides to grow,’ [Emphasis mine] Cook said.
     “As far as major weapons systems, the modernization base budget goes from $26.2 billion to $26.8 billion. Emphasis is put on ‘developing and improving existing fleet systems,’ the budget documents said. Money for the procurement of existing platforms goes down from $17.8 billion to $17.4 billion. {Where is the funding for new platforms?}
     “ ‘The Army is accepting risk in developing new capabilities in order to prioritize incremental upgrades in air and ground systems so we can put in the hands of our soldiers in the near term a greater and more lethal capability,’ Horlander said. {What about the long term?}
      - - -
     “As for rotary wing aircraft, most programs would take a hit with AH-64E remanufactured models going from 52 to 50, the CH-47 Chinook falling from 61 to six, and UH-60M Black Hawk’s from 61 to 48. The only program to receive more helicopters is the Apache new builds, from seven enacted in 2017 to 13 proposed for 2018.
     “Horlander said the cuts to aviation have to be carried out to fund other priorities such as air defenses and long-range fires.
     “Cook said he was shocked at the number of Black Hawks being proposed. Forty-eight would be the lowest number in years. Sixty to 70 new builds is more normal, he added.
      - - -
     “Fighting vehicles are a mixed bag as the number of M1 Abrams tanks being upgraded drops from 60 to 20. However, the number of Bradley fighting vehicles undergoing modifications goes from 45 to 135 and the number of Paladin Integrated Management mobile 155 mm Howitzers and their resupply vehicles being acquired goes from 48 to 71 . .
      - - -
     “Absent from the annual budget briefing was any mention of the future years defense program, a five-year look at funding levels beyond the current request. . . .” (Ref. 13)

The Real Facts About the Air Force’s Budget

     “The big surprise in the Air Force's fiscal year 2018 budget request is how little it differs from previously projected estimates, [Emphasis mine] analysts said.
     President Donald Trump widely touted a boost in military modernization for the next fiscal year, but the budget documents released on May 23 paint another story for the Air Force. [Emphasis mine] The service's request for $183 billion — a 7 percent increase over the enacted fiscal year 2017 budget of $171 billion— contains a notable increase in research-and-development funding, but largely focuses on sustaining its current inventory while procuring modest amounts of fifth-generation fighters and tanker aircraft.
     " ‘That might be the biggest surprise, that there really aren't any surprises,’ said Shaun McDougall, military market analyst at Forecast International . . .
     “Maj. Gen. James Martin, deputy assistant secretary of budget for the Air Force, said the service's proposed budget reflected the need to invest in readiness and future capabilities as near-peer competitors boost their own military spending on next-generation systems and technologies.
     “Procurement across the Defense Department is about on track with what the Obama administration had been projecting, he noted. {So where is Trump’s much ballyhooed ‘massive increase in defense spending’?} Air Force procurement in particular would only increase by about $390 million, to approximately $25 billion in 2018.
      - - -
     “One of the largest jumps in funding for R&D goes to ‘next-generation air dominance,’ which the Air Force is using to explore and develop emerging capabilities that will enable it to stay ahead of potential adversaries, Martin said. The budget requests $295 million, up from $21 million in 2017.
     “The Air Force must also replenish its munitions after extended air campaigns in the Middle East, and is looking to ‘fund to capacity’ in 2018, Martin said. . .
     “Though the Air Force's proposed $3.3 billion space budget represents an increase over the enacted 2017 amount, it is less than previous projections of $3.9 billion. . .
      - - -
     “The service's budget request includes over $49 billion for operations and maintenance, less than $2 billion over the enacted 2017 budget, and moves to increase end strength by 5,800 to reach 502,000 airmen.
      - - -
     “Congressional leaders and analysts have said that Trump's budget request is ‘dead on arrival,’ but it is interesting how similar it is to the Obama administration's last request, [Emphasis mine] McDougall said. . .” (Ref. 14)

     “The Air Force wants a boost in funding for its space portfolio as potential adversaries advance their counter-space capabilities.
     The U.S. military is dependent on space assets for a variety of key tasks such as satellite communications, missile warning, and positional, navigation and timing. But threats to those systems are growing, said David Hardy, acting deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space.
     “ ‘Based upon our intelligence assessments ... it is clear that both China and Russia have aggressive programs to both demonstrate and produce eventual operational capability to be able to both non-kinetically and kinetically attack our space assets across a broad spectrum,’ he said May 24 {2017} during a meeting with reporters at the Pentagon.
      - - -
     “The Air Force is requesting approximately $7.75 billion for space investments. That is 20 percent or $1.3 billion more than the 2017 budget request. Much of that boost in funding — about $913 million — would go toward research, development, test
      - - -
     “The 2018 budget request calls for investing $2.08 billion — about $76 million more than was requested in the 2017 {budget} — “to prioritize mission success and eliminate reliance on the Russian RD-180 engine . . .” (Ref. 15)

The Real Facts About the Navy’s Budget

     “Although President Donald Trump has called for a major naval buildup, Navy procurement spending would not ramp up in fiscal year 2018 if his funding requests were enacted.      Under Trump’s plan, the service would receive $152.4 billion in 2018, including base budget funding of $145.2 billion and $7.2 billion for overseas contingency operations. The enacted level for 2017 was $135.4 billion in base funding plus $11.8 billion for OCO.
     “Trump’s 2018 request calls for a $9.8 billion increase in the Navy’s base budget. But $6.9 billion of that bump would go toward operation and maintenance for a force that has been pushed hard over the past 15 years. Procurement spending would essentially remain flat at about $46.7 billion. [Emphasis mine]
     “Within existing budget constraints, improving readiness was the top priority {not growing the force}, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. Brian Luther.
     “ ‘The guidance was fix [and] fill the holes for ’18,’ [Emphasis mine] he told reporters May 23 during a briefing at the Pentagon the day the budget was released. ‘We tried to hold the line as best we could on our procurement funds.’ {Hardly a strong endorsement of the budget!
     “Tom Callender, a senior research fellow for naval warfare and advanced technologies at the Heritage Foundation, said it’s understandable that the Navy focused on readiness rather than surging procurement.
     “ ‘Over the last several years the Navy got in a big readiness hole,’ he said. ‘Last year we were tying some submarines and some ships up to the pier because we could not afford to put them in the shipyard to conduct maintenance.
     “ ‘A prioritization of trying to fix readiness, working on some of the plan to build ships but not seeing a big increase [in modernization funding in the 2018 request] was not a surprise,” he added.
      - - -
     “The 2018 budget proposal calls for $17.3 billion to buy eight new-build ships including one Ford-class aircraft carrier, two Virginia-class fast attack submarines, two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and one littoral combat ship. That is down slightly from $17.4 billion enacted for nine new-build ships in 2017.
     “Under Trump’s plan, the Navy would also receive $843 million in advanced procurement funding for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, the service’s top acquisition priority.
     “The service would receive a total of $19.2 billion for its shipbuilding account in 2018, down from $21.2 billion enacted in 2017. [Emphasis mine]
     “The size of the fleet is expected to increase in 2018. Thirteen battle force ships are slated to be delivered in 2018 and two are to be retired, bringing the total force up to 292, the documents said. The Navy aims to eventually grow the fleet to 355 ships, although questions remain as to whether there will be enough funding available in future years to reach that goal.
     “The budget would give the Navy about $15.1 billion for aircraft procurement, down from $16.1 billion enacted for 2017. [Emphasis mine] The Navy would procure 91 manned and unmanned aircraft in 2018, fewer than the 124 enacted in 2017 and eight aircraft short of the previous budget request.  . . .
      - - -
     “The budget would increase the size of the active duty Navy from 323,900 to 327,900 personnel while the Navy Reserve would grow from 58,000 to 59,000.” (Ref. 16) This increase in Naval manpower would be considered miniscule.

The Real Facts About the Marine Corps’ Budget

     “The Marine Corps could see a modest increase in funding under the Trump’s administration's proposed fiscal year 2018 budget . . .
     “The total requested budget for the Marine Corps is approximately $27.6 billion, with $26.3 in base funding and $1.3 billion in overseas contingency operations funding. That’s a total increase of roughly $1.5 billion over fiscal year 2017's enacted numbers. More than half of that increase is going toward procurement, with the administration requesting roughly $2.1 billion in such spending, compared to $1.3 billion in 2017.
     “However, Bryan Clark, a senior fellow who focuses on naval issues at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said the funding doesn’t do enough to help with modernization. [Emphasis mine]
     ”It will ‘basically allow the Marines to operate at the readiness they have been over the last few years,’ . . . ‘It addresses some of the readiness shortfalls … but what it doesn’t do is really help them with their modernization problems.’ [Emphasis mine]
     “The Marine Corps is currently working on two major vehicle programs — the amphibious combat vehicle (ACV) to replace aging amphibious assault vehicles and the joint light tactical vehicle to replace some of the service’s Humvees.
     “ ‘Those two things are not going to be plussed up or accelerated as a result of this budget,’ Clark noted.
     “Overall, the Marine Corps is slated to purchase at least 5,500 JLTVs {Joint Light Tactical Vehicles} as part of a joint program being led by the Army. Service officials have recently signaled that they might like to increase that to more than 9,000.
     ”The Marine Corps plan requests 527 JLTVs, which is 335 more procured than in fiscal year 2017.  . . .
     “However, that is substantially less than the Obama administration allotted in its future years defense plan for fiscal year 2018, [Emphasis mine] Clark said. Budget documents would have put quantities at 1,157 vehicles.
      - - -
     “The ACV is another major vehicle program and is a new start in fiscal year 2018. The Marines plan to procure 26 systems, which will fulfill low rate initial production, according to budget documents.
     “While 26 platforms is a good place to start, the Marines have around 400 amphibious assault vehicles to replace, Clark noted. “You’re looking at a long procurement program to recapitalize those” if the rate doesn’t ramp up, [Emphasis mine] he said.
     “Already, the service has been trying to replace the systems for a decade, so a slow procurement will have ramifications, he added.
     “They’re going to have difficulty ‘maintaining the numbers of AAVs in the fleet if they need to use them for an actual operation,’ he said. ‘What’s going to save them is the fact that we’re probably not likely to do a large scale amphibious assault any time soon.’ {Not a good way to prepare for a possible escalation of hostilities!}
     ‘The Marine Corps has signaled that it is interested in multi-domain capabilities — including electronic warfare and surface-to-surface missiles — but those types of technologies won’t be properly funded in the fiscal year 2018 budget, Clark said.
      - - -
     “Research-and-development dollars are taking a hit in the new budget. The Trump administration is requesting $929 million for the Marine Corps, compared to the $1.3 billion that was enacted in 2017.
     “In terms of personnel, the active component will remain at 185,000 Marines and the Reserve at 38,500, documents showed.
      - - -
     “While the Marine Corps wants to keep up end strength, that could come at the cost of modernization . . .
     “ ‘The Marine Corps is going to have to make some choices because they could maintain this high level of personnel but then have the force not be modernized in the way that the commandant’s new operation concept would indicate.  . . . They might have to accept a smaller end strength.’ ” (Ref. 17)

Summarizing The Facts About the Budget

     “Though the White House is right to call for more, much-needed defense funding, $603 billion represents only a $16.8-billion increase from the Obama administration’s meager planned defense spending for 2018. A $603 billion budget for 2018 might be enough to stop the immediate deterioration and cuts in forces, but it will certainly not be enough to reverse the ravages already experienced. [Emphasis mine] Perhaps the most heartening thing about this request is the administration’s follow-through on its expressed intent to repeal the defense budget caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which have been both disruptive and destructive to military readiness.
     “The U.S. military—in both size and readiness—has shrunk to historically low levels, all while its budget has been held hostage to domestic policy whims. [Emphasis mine] Naysayers downplay the poor state of the military. But those who deny the existence of readiness problems are contradicted by the repeated testimony of dozens of senior uniformed and civilian military leaders. Those leaders uniformly agree that today’s military is desperately overtaxed and under-resourced. As the Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength reports, today our armed forces would be severely challenged to execute our defense strategy with the current force. [Emphasis mine]
     “The Heritage Foundation has proposed a 2018 funding level of $632 billion. It includes proposals for defense reform and savings to help restore our military’s strength and punch. Lawmakers finally need to demonstrate that they take the duty to provide for the common defense quite seriously. Lip service is not enough. We must begin to provide our men and women in uniform the equipment and resources they need to defend our country. Congress {and the President} must hear and heed the Pentagon’s candid voice in the upcoming budget debates. And lawmakers must then act to begin rebuilding our depleted military now.” (Ref. 18)


     So, once again, Donald Trump has proved to be long on rhetoric and bombast, but woefully short on actual performance. He once more showed that he is master of the con, but fails to deliver on his words and promises. His “biggest increase in defense spending” is no such thing. His promise to our troops that he is “100% behind them” rings hollow in light of the facts. Typical Donald Trump – lots of empty promises, hype and self-aggrandizement, but little, if any follow through and actual achievement. As Clara Peller once famously asked, “Where’s the beef?


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  13. Army Budget Request Leaves Little Room for Modernization, Stew Magnuson, National Defense, 23 May 2017.
  14. Air Force FY18 Budget Request Sees R&D Boost, Few Procurement Surprises, Vivienne Machi, National Defense, 23 May 2017.
  15. Air Force Seeks Big Funding Boost for Space Capabilities, National Defense, 24 May 2017.
  16. Navy Procurement Spending Stays Flat in Trump’s FY18 Budget, Jon Harper, National Defense, 24 May 2017.
  17. Marine Corps’ Procurement Gets Boost in President’s Budget, Yasmin Tadjdeh, National Defense, 23 May 2017.
  18. Heritage Experts Analyze Trump’s Budget: Defense, Thomas Spoehr, The Heritage Foundation, 23 May 2017.


  8 June 2017 {Article 293; Govt_72}    
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