By Azania Post Reporter
Amid a growing threat posed by the emergence of China as a major power and a growing threat posed by Russia, the US military has decided to act.
The Pentagon is asking for a major boost in military spending for 2019, requesting Congress approve a budget of $686 billion -- one of the largest in the Defense Department's history.
At the same time, the Trump administration's budget proposal included major cuts for international diplomacy and overseas aid.
Touting the proposal on Monday, President Donald Trump said the US military would be the strongest its ever been, including "increasing arsenals of virtually every weapon."
Military officials say the increase of $80 billion from 2017 is primarily aimed at deterring threats from Russia and China.
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"Great power competition, not terrorism, has emerged as the central challenge to US security and prosperity," Under Secretary Of Defense David L. Norquist told reporters Monday following the unveiling of the budget proposal.
"We recognize that, if unaddressed, the eroding US military advantage versus China and Russia could undermine our ability to deter aggression and coercion in key strategic regions."
Additions to major weapons systems in the proposal also address the North Korean threat, including plans to add another Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer, which is equipped with missile defense radar and plans to bolster US nuclear defenses.
The budget calls for an increase of 20 additional missiles to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which would intercept incoming warheads in space.
"Frankly we have to do it because others are doing it," Trump said.
"If they stop, we'll stop, but they're not stopping. So if they're not going to stop, we're going to be so far ahead of everybody else in nuclear like you've never seen before."
The increase in funding also addresses Defense Secretary James Mattis' continued alarm over the degradation of the armed forces under the threat of sequestration, something the Defense Department as a whole has been warning about for years.
"I am very confident that what the Congress has now done, and the President is going to allocate to us in the budget is what we need to bring us back to a position of primacy," Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Rome on Sunday.
The proposal would add 25,900 service members to the military and further grow the force by 56,600 by 2023, allowing the Defense Department to fill in units, and recruit pilots, maintainers and cybersecurity experts, according to Norquist.
Troops would also receive a 2.6% pay raise during the 2019 calendar year, in what would be the largest salary increase since 2010.