FORT DRUM, N.Y.—A roomy hangar at Fort Drum in upstate New York, with several helicopters and humvees thrown in, provided the backdrop for the signing of the military funding bill for fiscal 2019.
President Donald Trump signed the measure while surrounded by soldiers from Fort Drum, which is home to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division and has deployed more troops overseas than any other U.S. base since 9/11.
“We believe our war fighters deserve the tools, the equipment, and resources they have earned with their blood, sweat, and tears,” Trump said. “This authorization will give America’s war fighters the firepower they need to win any conflict quickly and decisively.”
The $717 billion act provides the Department of Defense with $639.1 billion in base funding, with another $69 billion earmarked for contingency operations and $8.9 billion for mandatory defense spending.
“Hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but if we do, no one stands a chance,” Trump said, referring to the revitalization of the military under his administration.
The president also mentioned the new Space Force development, saying, “Our foreign competitors and adversaries have already begun weaponizing space,” but America will get ahead so quickly, “your heads will spin.”
Under the measure, troops will get their first pay raise (2.6 percent) in around a decade.
The act specifies emerging technologies as a threat, such as advancements in artificial intelligence, space and counter-space capabilities, cyber, influence operations, and hypersonics, while also singling out adversaries that include Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, and the ISIS terrorist group.
Funding is provided for “bolstering international partnerships and providing additional funding for cyber warfare and influence operations to counter Russian aggression, cyber, and information warfare threats.”
It also supports joint military exercises with Japan, Australia, and India, to specifically counter China’s influence in Asia, Southeast Asia, and other regions.
The legislation also authorizes a parade in Washington and a national celebration—something Trump advocated for amid the NFL national anthem protests last year.
Vice President Mike Pence attended the ceremony and made opening remarks before the president took the stage.