U.S. defense spending: A bellwether for Trump’s security policy

Total U.S. defense outlays (2002-2022, fiscal year 2019 dollars)
After a sharp increase to 2020, the Trump administration plans to raise defense spending only in line with inflation (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • Without big changes, the U.S. military will not maintain its strength
  • The Trump administration has secured two years of budget increases
  • It currently plans to keep spending flat, in the face of a difficult political landscape

The debate over the United States’ budget for fiscal year 2020 could be an important turning point for the country’s security policy. The administration of United States President Donald Trump built its National Security Strategy, released in 2017, on the presumption of “peace through strength” – a strong military capable of protecting vital American interests in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific region. The administration signaled its intent to field a robust military with significant increases in defense spending – of $81.2 billion in 2018 and of $7.9 billion in 2019. However, without significant changes, the U.S. will not be able to sustain readiness and modernization over time.

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