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Donald Trump Unveils Detailed National Security Proposals In Philadelphia


The big theme today in the presidential campaign is national security. Donald Trump spoke at length about defense and national security issues in a speech today in Philadelphia. And later tonight, both Trump and Hillary Clinton will take questions on national security and veterans issues at an event sponsored by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman is here to go over the Trump proposals with us. And Tom, just give us the big picture to start the summary of what he had to say in the speech today.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Well, Audie, it's some of Trump's more detailed plans for the Pentagon. He wants to add tens of thousands more troops to the Army and the Marine Corps, in some cases even more than what the generals have called for. He would buy more fighters for the Air Force, more ships for the Navy. And many of these proposals sound a lot like ones Mitt Romney made when he ran for president back in 2012. These ideas basically reflect the thinking of a lot of national security conservatives in Washington.

CORNISH: So given that, any sense of how much it would all cost, or how would the US pay for it?

BOWMAN: Well, he offers no price tag, but we're talking clearly tens of billions of dollars more than the Pentagon gets now. And he said he would pay for it by, quote, "eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks."

Now, this effort would also require Congress to lift the budget caps that have been in effect since 2011. Trump said he would push Congress to do that. Now, Republicans of course would need to keep control of the House and Senate to go along with this idea, but the Democrats almost certainly would not agree. Also Trump has called for a tax cut as well, so you would have to add all that to the mix.

CORNISH: Now, Donald Trump's talked a lot about ISIS on the campaign trail. What did he have to say about that fight today, what he'd do about it?

BOWMAN: Well, he said it would be his top priority after he's elected. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP: So we're going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction. They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS.


TRUMP: We have no choice.

BOWMAN: Now, the U.S. already has a plan it's executing, one that's been criticized is not working well enough. And that plan is basically this, Audie - train and work with local forces in Syria and Iraq, and the U.S. would serve as an Air Force. The administration says that plan will take another year or so to complete to defeat ISIS.

Now, the only other quick and decisive option for people to look at this would be a big deployment of U.S. troops, at least thousands, maybe tens of thousands, as well as maybe troops from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Add to that a heavier U.S. air campaign.

But Trump didn't go quite that far today. He's not addressed whether he would send large numbers of U.S. troops beyond the several thousand Americans there now. Most of them are trainers, but some are commandos.

CORNISH: You mention Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Did Donald Trump talk anything about who America would ally with in this fight?

BOWMAN: Well, he pretty much echoed what he's already said. He once again criticized NATO, saying few of the 28 member states pay enough. They don't meet their commitments. He also wants Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to pay more for the, quote, "tremendous security we provide them." But he said he would do so respectfully.

CORNISH: Tom Bowman talking about Donald Trump's national security speech today. Tom, thank you.

BOWMAN: You're welcome.

CORNISH: And we'll have more coverage of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at tonight's national security forum on npr.org and tomorrow on MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.

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