Is the Military Big Enough?

In Governing and the Cabinet, Military and War On
- Updated

Without a new mission, analysts wonder what goals Mr. Trump has in mind. Erin M. Simpson, a national security consultant, called Mr. Trump’s plans “a budget in search of a strategy.”

The United States has higher military spending than any other country partly because its foreign policy goals are more ambitious: defending its borders, upholding international order and promoting American interests abroad.

“Our current strategy is based around us being a superpower,” said Todd Harrison, the director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We’ve sized our military to be able to fight more than one conflict at a time.”

But big-ticket items are mainly “useful in more conventional military campaigns,” said Michael C. Horowitz, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies military leadership. “The kind of investments you would make if you were primarily focused on counterinsurgency campaigns are very different.”

Mr. Trump’s announcements appear to emphasize optics as much as strategy, Mr. Horowitz said. “Tangible pieces of military equipment symbolize strength.”

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