14 June 2017

News Story: Mattis - Trump military buildup begins in 2019

US SecDef Jim Mattis
By: Joe Gould

WASHINGTON — As lawmakers grilled Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on the gap between President Trump’s defense buildup promises and his 2018 budget, Mattis reassured them the “real growth” begins in 2019. 

Mattis told members of the House Armed Services Committee he did not yet have funding projections for the troops, ships and jets Trump has talked about and offered assurances the budget released in May was the first step towards that goal. The military buildup will happen in 2019 to 2023.

“We didn’t get into this situation in one year, and we aren’t going to get out of it in one year,” Mattis said in response to questions about a 355-ship Navy. “We’re going to have to have sustained growth in ’19 to ’23, and this is where you’ll see the biggest growth: Army, Air Force and Navy as we’re digging us out of a readiness and maintenance hole.”

The outing, with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and DoD Comptroller David Norquist, was the first in a marathon week of congressional testimony on the president's budget released in May. Lawmakers critical of Trump’s $639 billion budget proposal as insufficient used the hearing to set up the fight to increase military spending as the House crafts its version of the budget in the coming weeks. 

At the hearing, Dunford and Mattis, said that to stay competitive, the military needs  3 percent to 5 percent growth above inflation — a tall order for Congress at roughly $19 billion per year. To achieve the military buildup “is going to take sustained growth over time,” Dunford said.

Read the full story at DefenseNews