The Army is signaling to Congress it would like 17,000 more soldiers after President Trump's recently unveiled defense budget called for zero growth in the size of the force in 2018, according to documents obtained Friday by the Washington Examiner.
The $3.1 billion troop increase is included in a so-called wish list of the Army's unfunded requirements that was drafted for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It calls for an additional 10,000 active-duty, 4,000 National Guard, and 3,000 reserve soldiers.
The Army and other service branches deliver the unfunded lists to Congress each year after the president's budget is released in hope of winning more space in the defense budget for their own priorities.
The soldiers would be added to the Army's current force of over 1 million, including the 476,000 in its active-duty component, that is already included in the $58 billion personnel budget requested by Trump.
The president has promised an active-duty force of 540,000 soldiers, but the Pentagon said the budget for the coming year will focus on shoring up existing forces and Trump's buildup could begin in 2019.
For now, the entire force is slated to remain the same size as what was approved by Congress last year. Lawmakers directed the service in December to nix a planned drawdown to 450,000 active-duty soldiers.
The Army's wish list request will now go to the armed services committees and appropriators on the Hill, where they will weigh it alongside Trump's request as they build the coming year's defense budget.
It calls for a total of $12.7 billion in added spending for a variety of needs including more training, munitions, modernization of helicopters and ground vehicles, and construction of new facilities.
Both Republican chairmen on the Senate and House armed services committees are calling for a big increase in defense spending above Trump's plans.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said last week that growing the Army is key to solving what defense hawks see as dangerously declining readiness to fight wars. And Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., trashed the White House's talking points that make the budget look as though it's providing more soldiers than it is.
The list also included:
- $4.9 billion to modernize equipment including nine new Apache AH-64E attack helicopters, three new Black Hawk helicopters, nine new CH-47F Chinook helicopters, and upgrades to Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Abrams tanks, and Hercules Recovery Vehicles.
- $2.3 billion for Army Tactical Missile System munitions, Patriot missiles, and other munitions, ammunition, and training.
- $1.8 billion for training brigade combat teams.
- $579 million to build readiness centers, tactical equipment and vehicle maintenance facilities, soldier barracks, hangars and other buildings.