“President Trump has reversed the decline of our military and restructured our national security strategy. With historic investment and vision, our military is now better equipped, better resourced and better manned than any military in the world.”
— Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence
This is misleading.
The Trump administration has budgeted more than $2 trillion to the defense budgets for the past three fiscal years: $671 billion in 2018, $685 billion in 2019 and $713 billion in 2020. But Mr. Kellogg’s suggestion that the military spending was declining before Mr. Trump took office and had seldom received such a large amount of money is wrong.
Adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon operated with larger budgets every year from the 2007 fiscal year to 2012 fiscal year, peaking at $848 billion in 2008. Under Mr. Trump, the amount appropriated for procurement — buying and upgrading equipment — averaged $132 billion over the past three fiscal years. That is lower than the annual averages of $134 billion under President Barack Obama and $140 billion under President George W. Bush.
Though the Trump administration has invested in operational readiness, there are signs that the military continues to face substantial challenges in addressing an array of threats from around the world. For example, the military earned a middling grade of “marginal” last year in the conservative Heritage Foundation’s annual index of military strength, based on factors like shortages in personnel and aging equipment. The think tank noted that American forces are probably capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict but “would be very hard-pressed to do more and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies.”