Speaking at Newport News, Trump Calls for Navy Buildup

President Donald J. Trump speaks to a crowd of more than 4,000 employees at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Photo by John Whalen/HII

Posted by Eric Haun

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants a U.S. military
buildup of more ships and planes to "project American power in
distant lands," making his case for a proposed $54 billion
increase in defense spending that has U.S. lawmakers squabbling.

Wearing an olive military jacket and hat aboard a new aircraft
carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, in Newport News, Virginia, Trump
said he wanted the U.S. military to have the finest equipment in
the world.

Trump this week proposed a $54 billion increase over last year in
defense spending, boosting the Pentagon budget to $603 billion,
and said he wanted to launch the biggest military buildup in
American history to make up for what he called a depleted armed
forces.

Some Republican lawmakers want more money for defense and others,
along with Democrats, are opposed to his option for offsetting
the cost of the buildup in the U.S. budget. He would cut foreign
aid and other non-defense programs by $54 billion.

Trump said he would like to get the U.S. Navy back up to having
12 aircraft carriers. The Navy currently has 10.

"I just spoke with Navy and industry leaders and have discussed
my plans to undertake a major expansion of our entire Navy fleet,
including the 12 (aircraft)-carrier Navy we need," Trump said,
receiving applause.

"We also need more aircraft, modernized capabilities and greater
force levels," he said. "Additionally, we must vastly improve our
cyber capabilities."

There are questions about how the increase in the budget will be
spread across the different service branches and which weapons
programs will get priority.

During the campaign, Trump said he would increase the Army's
troop strength and increase the number of ships in the Navy to
350 from about 275 ships. The timeline and the exact cost of the
buildup is unclear.

Trump said the Navy will "soon be the largest it's been."

The U.S. Navy peaked at 6,768 ships in 1945 at the end of World
War Two and by 1990 it still had 570 ships, even though the ships
now are more advanced and capable.

"We are going to have very soon the finest equipment in the
world," he said. "We will give our military the tools you need to
prevent war and, if required, to fight war and only do one thing.
You know what that is? Win. Win."

Trump said the Gerald R. Ford and other new ships "project
American power in distant lands."

"Hopefully, it's power we don't have to use. But if we do,
they're in big, big trouble," he said.

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Mar 2, 2017

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