Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, laid out his plan to rebuild the military during a speech in Philadelphia. He advocated raising the sequestration caps on defense spending, increasing army troops levels to 550,000, increasing the Marine Corps, and adding ships to the United States Navy and planes to the United States Air Force, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump also advocated building a missile defense system and augmenting cyber defenses and offenses.

While Trump would demand a plan to destroy ISIS within 30 days, he also promised to be less active in using military assets than has been the case under the Obama administration. He seems to be advocating a return to the old Reagan Doctrine of building up troops but using them for deterrence. Trump even revived an old term for that approach: “Peace through strength.” He would also ask American allies to contribute more resources to the common defense.

The cost of the military buildup Trump is advocating has been estimated at a relatively modest $55 billion to $60 billion per year over and above current Pentagon spending. The candidate suggesting that he would find offsets for the increased spending, but was vague at what those might be, falling back on the waste, fraud, and abuse sloganeering.

Still, Trump’s proposals are well within the mainstream of strategic thought.

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Many military experts believe that the current low levels of spending on the military coupled with the commitments the Obama administration have subjected the armed forces to is a dangerous combination.

Even so, Democrats have vowed to resist increased military spending unless caps are also lifted on domestic spending. The effect of such a move would be to explode the already high deficit and to increase the national debt to unsustainable levels.

The House, controlled by Republicans, can pass anything it wants. However, Democrats in the Senate, so long as they stay together, can filibuster such proposals to death. They have so far shown a remarkable willingness to kill defense spending increases, in effect holding the national security of the United States along with the lives of American servicemen and women hostage to their desire for more domestic spending.

Will Trump being elected with a mandate to increase the power of the military overcome that desire? Or will it take a Pearl Harbor style disaster to shame Democrats into putting the country before their political desires?  

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