SU National Security Expert Says Trump's Military Spending Plan Lacks Detail

Feb 28, 2017

The Director of National Security Studies at Syracuse University is concerned that President Trump’s proposal to increase military funding by $54 billion hasn’t been carefully thought out.  Federal programs like the EPA, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid could see drastic cuts in order to give more money to the military. Bill Smullen, at SU’s Maxwell School, said Trump’s priorities seem to conflict with that of his own Secretary of Defense and former Marine Corps General James Mattis.

William Smullen is a retired Army Colonel and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Credit Maxwell Alumni Blog

“Mattis has made the point when he was on active duty that he thought money ought to be taken away from the defense department and given to the state department, because diplomacy was a lot more effective in some cases than just more equipment on the ground to fight wars,” said Smullen.

More money for the military might mean less for foreign aid. Smullen says this could worsen international relations.

“If I’m an ally and I hear that I’m not going to get as much foreign aid as I had anticipated or that I had been receiving because money is going to be diverted to the defense department, I’m not going to be very happy with that,” said Smullen.

The president has said he wants a stronger military in order to eliminate ISIS.  Smullen says troops on the ground are key to defeating terrorist groups, but he says it’s easier said than done.

“The troops are exhausted. They have been fighting wars, two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, for 16 years now,” said Smullen.  “We have men and women in uniform who have been deployed to one of those two places five, six and seven times for tours. That does not bode well for them.”

Smullen says the U.S. can’t keep asking troops to do things without an end in sight. He added that as a citizen who pays taxes, he wants Trump to provide a laid out plan that is realistic and doesn’t increase the national debt.