PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 7 (UPI) — Donald Trump on Wednesday unveiled a plan to significantly increase the size of the United States military, calling for more enlisted soldiers, Navy ships and Air Force fighter jets, while also criticizing his opponent Hillary Clinton for her foreign policy record.
Trump, speaking to the Union League of Philadelphia, said he would increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps to 540,000 total, an increase of more than 40,000 troops. He also called for the expansion of surface ships in the Navy to roughly 350 vessels, up from about 300. He would also increase the number of Air Force fighter crafts to about 1,200.
Trump called for the end of military spending caps put in place by Congress in 2011 amid a debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling. The caps, known in Washington-speak as the sequester, have long been criticized by Republicans. Democrats, though, have refused to relent on the issue unless the GOP agrees to lifting similar restraints on domestic spending.
Trump also said his administration would move quickly to demand allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meet their own obligations to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Presently, only a handful of NATO members meet that threshold, Trump said.
“Early in my term, I will also be requesting that all NATO nations promptly pay their bills,” Trump said. “Only five NATO countries, including the United States, are currently meeting their minimum requirements to spend 2 percent of G.D.P. on defense.”
Trump also criticized Clinton over her foreign policy during her tenure as New York senator and secretary of state, charging she helped lead the United States into several Middle East conflicts that have destabilized the region and cost trillions.
“Sometimes it seemed like there wasn’t a country in the Middle East that Hillary Clinton didn’t want to invade, intervene in, or topple,” he said. “She’s trigger-happy and very unstable.”
Specifically, he cited her vote to authorize the war in Iraq, her advocacy for military involvement backing rebels who ousted Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, which led to political upheaval and an increased Islamic State presence there and her support for military intervention in the Syrian civil war.