Trump’s Troop ‘Buildup’ Includes Increases Passed Under Obama

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.)

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The ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Armed Services says that President Donald Trump exaggerated the size of troop increases with a “ruse” in the new budget.

Washington Democratic Rep. Adam Smith said that Trump’s budget for 2018 is misleading because the vaunted 56,400 troop increase includes a buildup approved in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 signed by former President Barack Obama in December.

“In keeping with President Trump’s habit of exaggeration, he has been telling Congress and journalists that his budget increases the size of the military by 56,000 service members,” Smith said in a statement Tuesday. “This is a ruse, because it doesn’t take into account the 24,000 active duty and 13,000 reservists that Congress added in last year’s enacted [National Defense Authorization Act].”

Trump’s budget proposal only calls for 8,042 more troops over the current authorized levels. Congress has already approved 2,121,858 troops for 2017, and Trump’s budget only asks for a total of 2,129,900 for 2018.

The Trump administration claims the 56,400 troop increase because they’re not comparing the increase to current force levels, but projected Obama force levels.

Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 “provides for 56,400 more Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines than the end strength planned by the Obama Administration,” according to the White House’s 171-page summary of the budget.

Around 26,000 Army troops would have had to be dismissed by 2018 under budget control act caps, the Obama administration predicted. Congress prevented that troop drawdown from happening in negotiations before the November election, and Obama signed the authorization act into law Dec. 23.

Republicans also decried Trump’s budget as not delivering the “largest military buildup in history,” as Trump promised earlier this year.

“The president’s budget request is supposed to be focused on restoring readiness,” Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said in a statement Thursday. “The buildup, the administration says, will have to wait a couple of years.”

“That ignores what Army leaders have testified to this committee, which is that inadequate end strength is forcing the Army to consume readiness as fast as it produces it,” McCain added. “In other words, the Army will never truly restore readiness until it begins to grow. Yet the president has submitted a fiscal year 2018 budget request that calls for zero additional soldiers.”

(Editor’s Note: This story has been update to correctly attribute a quote to Rep. Adam Smith, not Rep. Adam Schiff.)

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