President-elect Donald Trump promised to rebuild the rapidly deteriorating U.S. military during his campaign for office, and Sen. John McCain may have the plan to help him do it.
In an effort to combat the Obama administration’s alleged failure to maintain the military, McCain published a white paper Monday that suggests how to repair the damage in the 2018-2022 fiscal year defense budgets.
“President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to ‘fully eliminate the defense sequester’ and ‘submit a new budget to rebuild our military,'” said McCain’s paper. “This cannot happen soon enough. The damage that has been done to our military over the past eight years will not be reversed in one year.”
McCain took a sober view on remedying the problem, tempering expectations of a quick fix to the military spending problem.
“Just stemming the bleeding caused by recent budget cuts will take most of the next five years, to say nothing of the sustained increases in funding required thereafter,” noted McCain’s paper.
While McCain and Trump certainly have had their differences on key national security issues, they are very much aligned on the importance of modernizing the military. Both men railed against President Barack Obama’s defense cuts during the election season, and are fierce critics of the Budget Control Act, which placed mandatory caps on defense spending.
The paper argued that the U.S. defense strategy must recognize that China and Russia have caused the world to enter “a new era of power competitions.” It noted that both countries are modernizing their armed forces, while the U.S. is starting to lag behind.
McCain also addressed North Korea and Iran, noting that while they do not pose the same global threat as Russia and China, they do pose threats to their respective regions.
“North Korea already has nuclear weapons and is rapidly developing a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the U.S. homeland,” said the paper. “Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons has been postponed but not halted.”
The paper also addressed the continued need to aggressively address “violent Islamist extremist groups.” McCain noted that the Islamist terror threat has “metastasized” and criticized Obama’s forced reversal on engaging in long-term operations in the Middle East.
“We cannot afford to pretend again that pulling back will make things better,” said the paper.
McCain recommended a massive $640 billion base national defense budget for the coming fiscal year 2018, a $54 billion increase over Obama’s planned budget. The plan includes a $430 billion increase in currently planned spending over the next five years. McCain’s proposal would prioritize the modernization of the military in an effort to deter potential conflicts with “great powers” like Russia and China. Additionally, he calls for increasing the number of military personnel, weapons platforms and equipment.
McCain’s paper admits its proposals are “not cheap,” but that the status quo is much more dangerous.
“The cost of further inaction, however, is worse: we will irreparably damage our military’s ability to deter aggression and conflict,” noted the paper.
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