On February 12, 2018, the United States President administration released a fiscal year 2019 budget proposal asking the Congress for massive increase in military spending. Citing reemergence of great power competition with China and Russia, the proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is $686 billion – one of the biggest in the U.S. history.

„We‘re going to have the strongest military we‘ve ever had by far,” Donald Trump said during a press conference at the White House on February 12, 2018. The $686 billion budget would be an $80 billion increase from 2017. In comparison, China’s yearly military budget is $161 billion and Russia’s is $44 billion, according to Reuters.

The budget proposal comes weeks after Pentagon released new national security strategy which aims at moving away from counterterrorism and focusing on nuclear-armed countries like North Korea, Russia and China.

According to the document, the budget would support DoD’s “long-term strategy of deterring Chinese military coercion and aggression in the Indo-Pacific region through strengthened forward presence“. China has been building infrastructure in the South China Sea, claiming territory where nearly a third of the world‘s trade passes through.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is also increasing its military capabilities – Beijing said its new J-20 stealth fighters, seen as a challenge to US F-22 and F-35 stealth jets, were now combat-ready. And, in 2017 China added state-of-the-art warships to its fleet and formally opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti, CNN reports.

The proposal claims that budget increase would better counter Russian coercion and deter Russian aggression in Europe. The requested $6.3 billion for DoD’s European Deterrence Initiative would modernize army equipment in Europe and „catalyze front line allies’ and partners’ efforts to defend themselves, and provide $250 million to help Ukraine protect its territorial sovereignty“.

The document emphasizes the need to address the threat of North Korea and Iran by advancing missile defenses for the U.S. by requesting $24 billion to „modernize and sustain the three legs of the nuclear triad—land, sea, and air—as well as nuclear command, control, and communications systems.“

The budget proposal also requests more than $70 million for surface fleet equipment enhancement and training. It would fully fund U.S. Air Force flight training, alleviate pilot shortages and invest in training for high-end combat.