The various U.S. military branches are reportedly drafting proposals to expand in response to President Donald Trump’s pledge to rebuild America’s “depleted” fighting force.
Fox News has learned:
The Air Force wants to expand its forces by 30,000 airmen over the next five-to-six years. The Army wants to expand by roughly that amount by October, according to a defense official who shared the plan with Fox News but was not authorized to do so.
As part of a proposed expansion, the Navy also wants 82 more ships and submarines, a 30 percent increase in the size of the fleet. Last month, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said he wants to increase his force by 3,000 Marines.
During the previous eight years, budget cuts and policy decisions decimated the U.S. military — concerning manpower, equipment, and most importantly, readiness — high-ranking officials from the different military branches told lawmakers earlier this month.
Specifically, Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, told the House Armed Services Committee this month that only three of the 58 U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) are currently capable of immediately joining the fight in the event of a major conflict.
The rest would require about 30 days to prepare.
Echoing comments he made during U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s swearing-in-ceremony at the end of January, President Trump told reporters last week, “Our country will never have had a military like the military we’re about to build and rebuild. It won’t be depleted for long.”
At the swearing-in-event, the commander-in-chief signed an executive action to rebuild and expand the military.
“I’m signing an executive action to begin a great rebuilding of the armed services of the United States, developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform,” declared Trump. “I’m very proud to be doing that.”
While campaigning, Trump vowed to rebuild and expand the military.
The president’s pick for national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has long warned about the troubling state of the U.S. Army.
“We are outranged and outgunned by many potential adversaries … [and] our army in the future risks being too small to secure the nation,” McMaster told lawmakers last April.
Under former President Barack Obama, the largest branch of the military, the U.S. Army, pink-slipped tens of thousands of soldiers in the name of budget constraints, a move that ultimately shrunk the Army to its smallest level since to World War II.
As it stands now, Army soldiers can only do what the country requires of them while assuming “high risk,” revealed Gen. Allyn.
Other branches are also facing readiness gaps.
Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, who, along with Gen. Allyn, testified this month, told lawmakers that the “Navy is smaller today than it has been in the last 99 years.”
Adm. Moran confirmed that more than half (53 percent) of all Navy aircraft cannot fly, primarily due to a lack of funding.
Gen. Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, also testified, saying that his branch is the “smallest, oldest equipped, and least ready in its history.”
Furthermore, Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told lawmakers that U.S. Marines might “experience increasingly significant challenges to the institutional readiness required to deter aggression and, when necessary, fight and win our Nation’s battle” under current funding levels.
“Approximately 80 percent of our aviation units lack the minimum number of ready basic aircraft (RBA) for training, and we are significantly short ready aircraft for wartime requirements,” added the assistant Marine commandant.