President Trump Signs $717 Billion Defence Bill

Cover Image Credit: White House

The US President has signed an agreement authorising $717 billion in defence spending. 

Donald Trump signed the Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act at a ceremony at the Fort Drum US Army base in New York.

The act authorises a 2.6% military pay raise and increases the active duty forces by 15,600 service members. Last month the UK Government announced a 2% pay raise for its military personnel, 0.4% below the current inflation of 2.4%.

President Trump said: "With this new authorisation, we will increase the size and strength of our military by adding thousands of new recruits to active duty, Reserve and National Guard units, including 4,000 new active-duty soldiers.

"We will replace ageing tanks, ageing planes and ships with the most advanced and lethal technology ever developed. 

"And hopefully, we’ll be so strong, we’ll never have to use it, but if we ever did, nobody has a chance."

The act sets active duty end strength for the Army at 487,500 in fiscal 2019, which begins 1 October 2018. The Navy’s end strength is set at 335,400, the Marine Corps’ at 186,100 and the Air Force’s at 329,100.

It also funds 77 F-35 joint strike fighters at $7.6 billion along with funding F-35 spares, modifications and depot repair capability. The budget also fully funds development of the B-21 bomber.

The act authorises $24.1 billion for shipbuilding to fully fund 13 ships and accelerate funding for several future ships, including three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and two Virginia-class submarines.

In addition, the act authorises 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets, 10 P-8A Poseidons, two KC-130J Hercules, 25 AH-1Z Cobras, seven MV-22/CMV-22B Ospreys and three MQ-4 Tritons.

There is $5.2 billion in the budget for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, and another $850 million to train and equip Iraqi security forces to counter Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists.

US Space Force

The budget accelerates research on hyperspace technology and defence against hyperspace missiles. It also funds development of artificial intelligence capabilities.

President Trump said: "In order to maintain America’s military supremacy, we must always be on the cutting edge.

"That is why we are also proudly reasserting America’s legacy of leadership in space.

"Our foreign competitors and adversaries have already begun weaponizing space."

The US President said the Chinese military had launched a new military division to oversee its warfighting programs in space.

President Trump Signs $717 Billion Defence Bill CREDIT WHITE HOUSE

He said: "We’ll be catching them very shortly. They want to jam transmissions, which threaten our battlefield operations and so many other things. We will be so far ahead of them in a very short period of time, your head will spin."

"Just like the air, the land, the sea, space has become a warfighting domain.

"It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space; we must have American dominance in space, and that is why just a few days ago, the vice president outlined my administration’s plan to create a sixth branch of the United States military called the United States Space Force."

The 2019 Authorization Act does not directly fund the military but it authorises the policies under which funding will be set by the appropriations committees and then voted on by Congress. That bill is still under consideration.

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