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Price Tag of President’s Military Buildup- An Extra $638 Billion

troop buildup

By Debbie Gregory.

President Trump’s ambitious plan to rebuild America’s overstretched military would cost $683 billion more than current spending plans over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

The Congressional Budget Office is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides budget and economic information to Congress.

President Trump came into office pledging the largest defense spending spree since the administration of Ronald Reagan — assuring the troops that they would see “beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment.”

More missile defense systems, an upgraded nuclear arsenal and hundreds of additional fighter aircraft were also on the president’s wish list.

The budget for President Trump’s goals for the military would be more than 20 percent larger than peak spending during the 1980s.

The buildup’s projected 10 percent manpower increase (an additional 237,000 troops), its addition of 20 percent more naval vessels, and its increased purchases of other new weapons, adds up to a 12 percent increase over the Obama administration’s plans for defense spending over the same period.

For the Air Force, rising costs result primarily from existing plans to replace aging weapon systems and increased purchases of the F- 35A to allow the Air Force field five additional fighter squadrons.

The projections were based on administration documents, congressional testimony and the 2018 budget request’s five-year plan. The administration is due to produce a 2019 budget request and its National Defense Strategy, which will likely add more clarity.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in congressional testimony earlier this year the buildup would begin in 2019.

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Bilden Withdraws as Navy Secretary Nominee

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By Debbie Gregory.

President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of the Navy withdrew from consideration on Sunday, the second time a Trump nominee to lead one of the armed services bowed out because of government conflict-of-interest rules.

The nominee, Philip Bilden, a former military intelligence officer in the Army Reserve who ran the Hong Kong branch of a private equity firm, said in a statement that he had informed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that he did not want to continue to seek confirmation a month after he had been named for the post.

“I fully support the President’s agenda and the Secretary’s leadership to modernize and rebuild our Navy and Marine Corps, and I will continue to support their efforts outside of the Department of the Navy,” said Bilden. “However, after an extensive review process, I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family’s private financial interests.”

Vincent Viola, a billionaire Wall Street trader and Mr. Trump’s choice for secretary of the Army, withdrew because he decided it was too difficult to detach himself from his business interests.

Bilden, the son of a naval officer, attended Georgetown University on an R.O.T.C. scholarship and served from 1986 to 1996 in the Army Reserve as an intelligence officer. He was a board member of the Naval Academy Foundation and the Naval War College Foundation and has two sons who attended the Naval Academy. He was reported to be Mr. Mattis’s choice for the position.

He made his fortune in a 25-year career at HarbourVest Partners, first in Boston and then in Hong Kong.

The development leaves Trump and Mattis without nominees to head both the Navy and Army.

“In the coming days I will make a recommendation to President Trump for a leader who can guide our Navy and Marine Corps team as we execute the president’s vision to rebuild our military,” Mattis said.

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Lawmaker Won’t Give Up on Medal of Honor for Fallen Marine

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By Debbie Gregory.

 

Rep. Duncan Hunter (Rep. CA) is hoping that the fourth time’s the charm for fallen Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta.

The lawmaker, a veteran Marine officer, sent a letter petitioning Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to review Peralta’s nomination for the Medal of Honor — a nomination that three previous defense secretaries have opted not to approve.

Peralta was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.  “Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away,” the citation read.

Peralta had been wounded by a bullet ricochet to the back of the head immediately before his death, and some investigators have questioned whether he could have been conscious and able to grab the grenade after sustaining that wound.

Peralta’s desire to become a Marine was sparked shortly after he moved to California as a teenager. A native of Mexico, he had moved from Tijuana to San Diego after his mother grew concerned that he could get swept up in gang violence.

Peralta, an undocumented immigrant during his first years in San Diego, enlisted the day his green card arrived in the mail in 2000.

Hunter’s letter came just days after the Navy took ownership of the USS Rafael Peralta, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer named in honor of the fallen Marine.

Eyewitness accounts remain a sticky point in the Peralta case. Hunter notes that three Marines who were there in Fallujah during the firefight credit the sergeant with saving their lives.

A Marine colonel assigned to investigate the facts wrote in a Nov. 17, 2005, report that he was convinced that the Marines who testified to Peralta’s actions “gave an honest account.” He also found that Peralta was “probably” shot by friendly fire and listed both the gunshot and shrapnel wounds from the grenade as the cause of death.

“Jim Mattis can now make the right decision on this after others have failed to do that,” said Hunter.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.