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With North Korea threat looming, Trump seeks $5.9 billion more for military

President Donald Trump (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Trump asked Congress for another $5.9 billion for the military on Monday, as he continued an Asia trip aimed at countering what he called the “North Korean menace.”

The addition to the administration’s 2018 budget request came just as Trump was leaving Japan for South Korea, where the U.S. has begun installing an anti-missile defense system known as THAAD.

Trump’s request includes:

  • $4 billion for a missile defense and detection system on the Korean peninsula.
  • $1.2 billion to fund his request for 3,500 additional U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • $700 million to repair two Navy ships.

The request for additional missile defense money comes three months after Trump first expressed second thoughts about his administration’s proposal to cut the Missile Defense Agency’s budget, and promised to add billions back to the program. But it also represents an easing of his demands for allies to share the burden on defense spending.

“We make the best military equipment in the world,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Sunday. “A shot was just taken by Iran, at my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. You know about that, right? You saw the missile that went out? And our system knocked the missile out of the air. That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.”

The request comes as China and South Korea have resolved their dispute over the installation of THAAD batteries in South Korea, which China said threatened its national security. But South Korea has still been reluctant to add additional THAAD installations on the peninsula.

The missile defenses could also be used to protect U.S. territory in Alaska and Guam, which are now within range of North Korea’s ballistic missiles.

The $1.2 billion for Afghanistan follows Trump’s announcement of a revamped strategy for war efforts announced in August. Trump has said U.S. troops will remain there indefinitely. “Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategies from now on,” he said.

Two ships in the Pacific fleet — USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald — have been damaged in deadly collisions this year, which ultimately led to the 7th fleet commander being fired.All of the proposed spending is off-budget, using mechanisms for war spending and emergencies designed to get around budget caps.

David Jackson reported from Seoul.


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