WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump made the first move toward a major military buildup with a few strokes of his pen at the Pentagon on Friday, but the real work -- authorizing money to pay for it -- is up to Congress.
Lawmakers are in charge of approving the defense budget, and their willingness to fork over tens of billions for a military buildup is far from certain this year as huge political hurdles loom.
Trump, who campaigned on rebuilding the armed forces, signed a memorandum making it policy and directed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to review military readiness within 30 days and report back with a plan to bolster operations.
“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,” Trump said.
Memoranda and other actions such as executive orders give the president sway over the workings of the Defense Department and federal government.
But his vision has to go through lawmakers who have no requirement to follow it, highlighting the limits of his power over the size of the military and the challenges he faces in making his goals reality.
Trump’s memorandum Friday directed Mattis to look at training, equipment maintenance, munitions, modernization and infrastructure.
The document also calls for a new defense budget, including supplemental funding as well as a game plan to address lagging maintenance, parts acquisition delays, manpower shortfalls, access to training ranges and training.