In comments which provide the most detail yet on President-elect Trump’s foreign policy intentions, he laid out a vision of a more focused style of US military intervention abroad, insisting the focus needs to be on “defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS.”
On the other hand, Trump said the US would “stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with,” saying that the policy of “intervention and chaos” needs to come to an end.
Trump delivered the comments to a large crowd in Fayetteville, NC, as part of his vision for rebuilding the US military, which he said would involve not just an increase in spending, but would reduce the number of US operations overall, suggesting the US military is “depleted” in the first place “because we’re all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in.”
Trump has pledged major expansions in the military, including numbers of troops in the infantry, number of ships and number of warplanes. Military leaders have also said they expect to get significant boosts for additional weapons programs as part of the deal.
Trump has also said he intends to end the sequestration, which nominally caps the size of Congressional military spending bills. While those caps are technically still in place, Congress has been regularly subverting them with “emergency” spending bills and swelling overseas operations budgets. While ending the sequestration might simplify things, it isn’t obvious it will directly lead to spending increases.
Paying for the large increases in physical numbers of personnel and equipment could dramatically increase the bottom line, though Trump seems to be indicating a cutback on amount of places the US is fighting abroad, which could be a major savings.
This is clearly huge news, though so far it still lacks specifics, as the US has troops deployed in scores of countries around the planet, and while the president-elect indicated that number is going to be going down, it isn’t clear what countries the US forces will be leaving.
The comments are in keeping with his campaign pledges, as well as some earlier post-election comments, which indicated that, for instance, he intends to scrap efforts to impose regime change in Syria and shift US focus in that country to fighting ISIS.
But while a US military policy focused on fighting terror does seem like it reduces a lot of superfluous deployments, any hope this might mean a massive reduction in US deployments abroad may be premature, as ISIS alone is in dozens of countries, with terror groups like al-Qaeda adding to that number and leaving a large chunk of the planet which could still be a warzone in a terror-focused US policy.