WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is seeking nearly $6 billion to pay for urgent missile defense improvements to counter the threat from North Korea, increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan and fast repairs to Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific theater.
The budget request delivered to Capitol Hill on Monday coincided with tough words for Pyongyang from U.S. President Donald Trump during the first stop of his lengthy Asia trip. Trump sought to ratchet up pressure on North Korea by refusing to rule out eventual military action and declaring that the United States “will not stand” for North Korea menacing America or its Asian allies.
Trump denounced North Korea as “a threat to the civilized” for pursuing nuclear weapons and the development of the long-range ballistic missiles to deliver them.
The spending request designates $4 billion of the total to support “additional efforts to detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies, or partners,” according to the document. That includes current and projected threats to the U.S. homeland, Guam, South Korea and Japan.
Portions of the money would be used for the construction of an additional ground-based interceptor field at Fort Greely, Alaska; the initial procurement of 20 new ground-based interceptors; ship-based missiles; and interceptors for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, a U.S. mobile anti-missile system.
Roughly $1.2 billion in the request would allow the Defense Department to deploy an additional 3,500 U.S. troops to Afghanistan as part of Trump’s new strategy for the country where the U.S. has been fighting since 2001, according to the budget request. Trump in August unveiled his new plan for the 16-year Afghan war, declaring that American troops would “fight to win” by attacking enemies, “crushing” al-Qaida and preventing terrorist attacks against Americans.
About $700 million of the spending package would go to the Navy to make repairs to the destroyers John S. McCain and Fitzgerald. Both ships from the Pacific-based 7th Fleet were damaged in deadly collisions that led to eight top Navy officers, including the 7th Fleet commander, being fired from their jobs
The McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead. And seven sailors died in June when the Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.