Presidential Memorandum on Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces

Because the immigration executive order took up so much attention of the national news media this past weekend, this memorandum was almost lost in the flood of information. I saw some reports, but not much analysis of this memorandum.

From the title, one can insinuate the president does not believe the current status of the armed forces is adequate. While the action here does not do much specifically other than direct the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to do some reviews of the status of various aspects of the military and provide reports to that effect, it does give some clues as to what he wants to be emphasized with regard to the military.

A 30-day Readiness Review is the first directive that includes review by the OMB to handle anticipated budget reallocations for the current fiscal year.

Under the title of “Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces” one section directs the Secretary of Defense to develop a National Defense Strategy (NDS) based on a new National Security Strategy upon its submission to the Congress. “The goal of the NDS shall be to give the President and the Secretary maximum strategic flexibility and to determine the force structure necessary to meet requirements.”

Part of this “Rebuilding” section includes two more reviews:

  • a new Nuclear Posture Review
  • a new Ballistic Missile Defense Review

On the one hand, this should order come as no surprise given the campaign promises to strengthen the military. On the other, it is a chilling reminder that this unhinged individual is in charge of the nuclear arsenal and has threatened to expand it and use it. I am not particularly comforted by the fact the primary Cabinet officer who might dissuade him from using nuclear weapons goes by the nickname “Mad Dog”.

Presidential Memorandum signed January 27, 2017.


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