Donald Trump promises massive buildup of entire US military

Trump walks out from the Oval Office of the White House, en route to CPAC, Feb 24, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump on Friday (Feb 24) promised a historic buildup of America's already vast military, but said he hoped he would never need to use it.

We are "putting in a massive budget request for our beloved military and we will be substantially upgrading all of our military," Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just outside Washington.

"Offensive. Defensive. Everything. Bigger and better and stronger than ever before. And hopefully, we'll never have to use it," he added.

Trump last month signed an executive order to begin increasing the size of the US armed forces, promising new aircraft, naval ships and more resources for the Pentagon.

The order provided few specifics but Trump made clear during last year's campaign and in recent weeks that he wants to enlarge the ranks of the military and expand its fleets of aircraft and ships.

Top brass from across the armed services in recent weeks have decried staffing and equipment shortcomings that pose a threat to morale and operational readiness.

"Nobody's going to mess with us, folks. Nobody. It will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history," Trump said.

While campaigning, Trump frequently lamented what he described as a depleted US military and complained America no longer wins wars.

"Nobody will dare question our military might again," he told the conservative conference.

"We believe in peace through strength. And that's what we will have."

The US military is already by far the world's most powerful and most expensive. It has bases spanning the globe, an annual budget of more than US$600 billion and about 1.3 million active duty troops.

Military spending accounts for about 3.3 per cent of America's GDP and Republicans are eager to spend billions more, though for now it is unclear where the extra cash would come from, especially if the Trump administration cuts taxes.

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