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The Trump Military Buildup Has Begun With DOD’s Proposed Budget

For years, the U.S. military has had to do more with less, but the Defense Department’s proposed budget for fiscal 2019 would add nearly 26,000 service members across the active-duty force, National Guard and reserves.

The Army would see the biggest jump, growing by 11,500 active-duty soldiers, 500 National Guardsmen and 500 reservists, budget documents show. The Navy would grow by 7,500 active-duty sailors and 100 reservists; the Air Force would add 4,000 active-duty airmen, 500 reservists and 200 National Guardsmen; and the Marine Corps would increase by 1,100 active-duty Marines, officials said.

The plus-up reflects the National Security Strategy’s requirements that the Defense Department reverse the post-Iraq and Afghanistan drawdowns that led to the U.S. military in 2016 being the smallest it had been before World War II, said Defense Department Comptroller David Norquist.

By fiscal 2023, the U.S. military expects to add a total of 56,600 service members, Norquist said Monday at a Pentagon briefing. The additional troops will allow the Defense Department to add units such as the Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigades as well as recruit pilots, maintainers, and cyber security experts, he said.

Under current plans, the Marine Corps would only grow by 1,400 active-duty Marines over the next five years, despite the Corps’ internal force structure review, which recommended that the service increase its active-duty end strength from 185,000 to at least 194,000 Marines.

“Each of the services took a look at what it takes to improve their readiness and their capability,” Norquist said. “In some cases, it’s additional end strength and in some cases it’s additional training. In other cases, it’s moving more things to maintenance for readiness. You’ll see some variation between them. It’s not a matter of emphasizing one service over the other. It’s a recognition on their part of what they need to be effective.”

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