May 25, 2018, 3:22 PM ET

Parades, space command: Trump's military wish list in DOD policy bill

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The bill establishing Pentagon policy for the next fiscal year includes items on President Donald Trump's military wish list, including giving service members a pay raise, laying ground rules for a military parade and making progress on establishing a military branch focused on outer space.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of a more than $700 billion military authorization bill Thursday and is now awaiting a Senate floor vote, while the House of Representatives has already passed its version, where some of Trump’s wish-list items are better detailed. The National Defense Authorization Act sets spending levels, but then Congress must pass a separate bill to actually allocate funds.

Here’s a look at some of the items that President Trump will likely be paying closest attention to:

SERVICE MEMBER PAY RAISE: In both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA service members get a 2.6% pay raise. The House version also extends special pay and bonuses to service members in high-demand fields. Earlier this year Trump erroneously said he gave service members their first pay raise in 10 years, when in fact they have had their salaries raised at least 1 percent every year for more than 30 years. What is correct is that this is the largest pay increase service members have seen in nine years.

MILITARY PARADE: The House version of the NDAA gives the Secretary of Defense the authority to fund a military parade in Washington, D.C., to satisfy President Trump’s stated desire for an event like the Bastille Day parade he witnessed during his trip to Paris. In a statement, House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry said he “agrees with President Trump that it is appropriate to honor and celebrate 100 years of patriotic sacrifice in a way that expresses appreciation and admiration for our men and women in uniform, including a parade in the nation’s capital and a national celebration for that purpose.”

But the bill also puts significant limits on the amount of military equipment and personnel that can be devoted to the parade – all at the Secretary of Defense’s discretion.

Language in the House bill allows the Secretary of Defense to expend funds specifically “for the display of small arms and munitions” as well as the participation of ceremonial military units, but it also expressly prohibits the use of funds for “motorized vehicles, aviation platforms” and munitions other than those used for customary ceremonial honors. Thornberry’s statement added that his proposal would prohibit the use of operational units or equipment in the parade if the Secretary of Defense believes their inclusion would hamper readiness.

The Senate version, named after Armed Services Committee chair John McCain, R-Ariz., does not contain any language covering President Trump’s desire for an elaborate military parade in Washington D.C. like the one he witnessed during a trip to Paris which commemorated Bastille Day. “There was discussion about it in committee but it ultimately was not added,” a Senate Armed Services Committee aide told reporters Friday.

SPACE FIGHTING: President Trump has occasionally expressed his desire to see the United States’ military dominance expand in outer space, alluding to an eventual new military corps. "I said, 'Maybe we need a new force. We'll call it the Space Force,'” he said at an event in March. "And I was not really serious. And then I said, 'What a great idea. Maybe we'll have to do that. That could happen. That could be the big breaking story.”

So far, Congress and the military haven’t caught up to Trump’s lofty plans, but they have been laying the groundwork. Last year, in fact, the House Armed Services Committee tried to establish a Space Corps within the Air Force, similar to the Navy’s Marine Corps, but the Senate committee sought to expressly prohibit any such setup. The compromise between the two committees was to require several bureaucratic steps to consolidate the Air Force’s command of military space operations.

This year, the House’s request is slightly different. It seeks to establish a fighting force, housed within the Air Force, which would be dedicated to space warfighting, giving it less autonomy than a separate corps would. It also requires the Secretary of the Air Force to increase the number and improve the quality of its civilian and military “space cadre,” submitting a report to Congress on its plans by next March.

The Senate’s bill has no language on space but an aide said last year’s NDAA provided a “pretty significant homework assignment” for the Air Force to focus on, including standing up Air Force Space Command as the single authority for all decisions related to space security.

“The committee is waiting to see what comes out of the department on that,” the aide said.

The Senate could vote on its NDAA as soon as the first week of June, after which point the two committees must merge their bills in a conference committee.

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  • Thomas

    From the DoD site

    The basic pay raises since 2007:
    1 January 2007: 2.2%
    1 April 2007: 0.5%
    1 January 2008: 3.5%
    1 January 2009: 3.9%
    1 January 2010: 3.4%
    1 January 2011: 1.4%
    1 January 2012: 1.6%
    1 January 2013: 1.7%
    1 January 2014: 1.0%
    1 January 2015: 1.0%
    1 January 2016: 1.3%
    1 January 2017: 2.1%
    1 January 2018: 2.4%

    From Factcheck
    "Federal law mandates that military pay raises be equal to the change in the Labor Department’s annual Employment Cost Index, or ECI, for private sector wages.

    The president can “specify an alternative pay adjustment that supersedes the automatic adjustment,” and Congress can pass legislation that would “override the automatic adjustment and/or any presidential adjustment if it were enacted,” as explained in an April 2017 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

    That’s what happened in the case of the 2018 pay raise. Trump had proposed an increase of 2.1 percent for 2018 — which was below the ECI. But Congress passed the NDAA with a 2.4 percent increase, as set by the statutory formula, to fully fund the military pay hike."

    So in actuality, Trump asked for a smaller pay raise for the military but Congress overrode Trump's decision and it was Congress that gave the military that 2.4.

    But Trump takes the credit.....

  • DK1

    Trump is really jealous of the military parades that the dictators around the world that he idolizes hold all the time. He wants one of his own.

  • Millard Farquar

    Don't forget to insist on goose stepping!

  • kritikosman

    What about a bone spurs battalion too. #draftdodger

  • jerryp

    There is more waste in the military budget than anywhere else and we throw more their way. We give the rich more and more and then use more and more of our tax dollars to build the military to protect the rich.

  • LE

    President Trump believes what he hears from Fox channel pretend-news. It's not much of a leap from there to believing the reality of Star Wars storm troopers.

  • Prophet With Honor

    Space Force...wow, how Buck Rogers.

  • whitepine

    Hey Trump you want to tell us how the government shouldn't waste money? Let's not waste monry on this parade, your golf games, Pruitt's sound booth? Let's spend it instead on health care. Your red states lack access to basic health care in many areas.

  • kritikosman

    Did he talk about a bone spurs brigade too?

  • Murfski

    As a retired army warrant officer who was getting $83 per month as a private, I'm in favor of reasonable pay raises for the military. Needless to say, I got a few promotions and raises during my twenty years of service. Never got rich, but I didn't starve, either.

    I'm also in favor of a space program, but not a militarized one. There are treaties that forbid military activities on the moon and other "celestial bodies," as well as armed artificial satellites. Trump would be well advised to study the provisions before shooting his mouth off about a Space Force.

    Parades? We rarely liked them, and the idea of a parade to stroke Trump's ego is just dumb.

  • No one you know

    The man-child wants a parade and a space ship.

  • Betty Boop

    Who will we be fighting against in space?

  • tet1953

    This parade is like Viagra for Trump.

  • AlexaGuyer

    Since Trump dodged the draft 5 times, I think it is only fair that he is one of the first to volunteer for the military base in outer space.

  • Red Hawk

    Ask any active duty person in the military if they like parades and you'll get a resounding NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AmericanGirl

    We have veterans sleeping on streets, our roads and bridges are crumbling, seniors are going hungry so they can afford their medications, more people are living in poverty, soon to be cuts to CHIP, etc. etc. and Trump wants a military parade that could cost up to 50 million $ just to feed his overblown ego. Disgusting!

  • JuPMod

    Do we have an international treaty that forbids the militarization of outer space? Trump's idea will only lead to nations fighting other nations over space territory, when the treaty says space is meant for *science* purposes. What is Trump so afraid off? That ETs will come and conquer us? I doubt we can win a war, as seen in the movies, give any ETs would be more advance than us and would wipe us all out anyway.

  • ted marks

    All you have to do is GOOGLE "Military Wasteful Spending". "Deficits don't matter" - VP Dick Cheney. This is Taxpayer money, money we don't have. All in the name of "We will keep you safe" & and of course "Vote for Me". What a crock of Bull Pie!
    1970-1974 U.S, Army - 11B2P - Sgt.

  • Fatesrider

    So, how many deserving American citizens could be sent to a state college to get a decent degree and become a highly productive member of our society for the cost of one of these ego-stroking parades?

    I'm a vet. I'm horribly offended that our military is being wasted on ego-boosting pomp and circumstance for the glory that is Trump. Even if he pays for it out of his own pocket, it's a waste of their time and a distraction from their mission. American service members serve their COUNTRY, not the POTUS. If taking part in this compromises their mission, then it's an illegal order, and should be disobeyed. (The UCMJ mentions that only legal orders need to be obeyed.)

    Were I involved, I'd refuse to participate. I have MUCH better things to do than strut around to make that (insert pejorative term of choice here) feel better about himself.

  • Chuckie M

    Let me see if I am getting this straight. With a deficit running close to a Trillion dollars, an infrastructure that's generally rated D to F in most parts of the country. Our heath care system is slowly strangling us to death, and we are letting our educational system die as well, we are going to spend money for a dictator style parade to blow Trumps ego up. Spend a bunch of money on a Space force to fight wars against, I'm guessing Aliens. I got, no wonder this idiot was elected President. We deserve it.

  • Filan

    so legit question, Other than the loony of the idea of a space fighting force how would we even send a force sized fighting unit into space? The government has no large launch vehicles. Orion on the SLS is not much bigger than Apollo, And SpaceX does not sell its vehicles so even once its online I doubt we would see a camo painted USAF BFR.

  • Erwin Schrodinger

    Great... Trump is no longer satisfied with warmongering only on earth, he wants to expand to space.

  • pksk531

    Is anyone else offended by the 3/4 of a TRILLION dollar budget JUST for the DOD?? I agree with the raises, but not the parade, the Space Force. How many planes are they getting that they do not even want? How many tanks that are obsolete? How many over seas base can be phased out as the treaties expire? SO much waste!!

  • Sarah Levine

    I hope there is an expense line in there for the full military dictator outfit that Trump is dying to wear.

  • John Michael Davis

    Ronald Reagan already tried to go with the "star wars" space program. It didn't happen, and I think we have a treaty or something that says we can't do that. Not for sure though. He watches way too much TV, that's where he's getting all these ideas.