US President Donald Trump has signed a nearly $700 billion annual defense policy bill in the White House, which authorizes the US military to add troops, ships, planes and other equipment. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed by the Congress last month, authorizes $626.4 billion for the base defense budget and $65.7 billion for a war fund known as Overseas Contingency Operations, Xinhua news agency reported. The US President signed the defense policy bill on Tuesday. The money would go toward adding 7,500 active-duty soldiers to the Army, 4,000 active-duty sailors to the Navy, 1,000 active-duty Marines and 4,100 active-duty airmen to the Air Force.
It would also allow for a 2.4% pay raise for troops, higher than the 2.1% requested by the administration. Under the bill, the Pentagon will be allowed to buy 90 F-35s, 20 more than requested; 24 F/A-18s, 10 more than requested; and three littoral combat ships, two more than requested, among other equipment purchases. Moreover, the bill folds in the administration’s November request for $4 billion more for missile defense and $1.2 billion to support sending another 3,500 troops to Afghanistan. The US Army, Navy and Air Force would also see increases in the reserves and National Guard, according to a report by the Washington-based political news website The Hill.
However, the total money exceeds budget caps by more than $80 billion and the Congress has yet to pass a defense spending bill to make the buildup a reality. Earlier, Trump signed his administration’s first space policy directive, formally directing the US space agency NASA to send astronauts back to the moon and eventually Mars. “The directive I’m signing today will refocus American space program on human exploration and discovery,” Trump said at a White House ceremony on Monday.