Why does Trump want to increase military spending?
President Trump wishes to increase spending to restore capabilities that have been declining throughout the past decade or so.
Maintenance is reduced; forces are less ready
The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) is one contributor to declining military capability. The Defense Department reduced operations and maintenance funds in response to the BCA. The cumulative effect from 2013 to 2016 of this reduction in maintenance has been significant. Example: at one point only 30% of Marine Corps. F/A-18 Hornet were mission ready, and 28% of Super Stallion helicopters were airworthy (reference).
A budget increase is not only sought to restore deferred maintenance, it is also sought to recapitalize aging and outdated equipment. This article has subtle biases, but it does well describe how today's military capabilties are in large part a product on the 1980's defense build up. Reinvestment is needed. The article also describes the impact of less maintenance.
President Trump has a reputation as a negotiator from his real estate career. I opine that 50 billion is his entering argument as a negotiating tactic--that he realizes the final amount will be negotiated downward.
Even strong phrases such as Greatest Military Build Up Ever could be a negotiating tactic. It could very well be his entering statement. Catching Up on Deferred Maintenance would not do well with focus groups.
Relation to isolationism and non-interventionalism
From what I understand, Trump is an isolationist / non-interventionist, at least more so than previous presidents.
On the other hand, Trump wants to massively increase military spending
I suggest actually being the President can change one's opinions and attitudes. President Trump has probably evolved and has different thoughts and attitudes from Private Citizen Trump. It is to soon to tell where President Trump will act in regard to isolationism and non-interventionalism.
I offer the following thoughts:
- isolationist and non-interventionalist are difficult to uniformly define and apply. I imagine you could be a Defense Hawk and still wear one of those labels
- being an isolationist or non-interventionalist or does not
necessarily mean less military capability (spending) is the norm
- President Trump's stance toward ISIS suggests he may be an interventionalist