SAN DIEGO -- President Donald Trump got a jubilant reception Tuesday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where he promised troops pay raises and new equipment and floated the idea of creating a "Space Force" military branch.
The president pledged to "honor our duty to you," undertaking what he described as the largest military buildup since the presidency of Ronald Reagan and a policy of "peace through strength" that includes an influx of billions into the defense budget to pay for new equipment that Trump signed into law last month.
"The two-year budget agreement I just reached with Congress will provide $700 billion in defense funding this year, the largest ever, larger by far than any country has ever spent," Trump said. "Next year we will raise that number to $716 billion. That's a lot of money."
The funding is set to pay for training, missile defense and upgrades to the nuclear weapons arsenal. It represents a more than 15 percent increase from last year's military budget.
"We're also investing in our greatest weapon of all, our most powerful weapon, our most beautiful weapon, our most beautiful weapon, our most brilliant weapon: you," Trump said. "In 2019 we want to give you the largest pay raise in over a decade. You deserve it."
Trump didn't provide any details of that proposal. But a 2.4 percent pay hike for service members went into effect this year as part of an executive order issued by the president. That was the largest increase since a 3.4 percent raise approved by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Much of Trump's speech Tuesday included highlights of what he sees as his past accomplishments. But he also teased something new.
"My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain just like the land, air and sea," he said. "We may even have a space force, develop another force. We have an Air Force, we'll have a space force."
He said he first thought of that idea as a joke, but later realized it might be a realistic concept.
Trump opened his speech at the base by explaining his "absolute faith" in Marines and pointed to retired Marines serving in the White House: Secretary of Defense James "Mad Dog" Mattis, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph "Fighting Joe" Dunford and Chief of Staff John Kelly.
"Our administration is stacked with Marines because Marines are the type of people we want on our side," he said. "Marines never give up, never give in, never retreat and never, ever surrender."
The speech came after the president toured the border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa. Of the eight 30-foot high samples, Trump said he favored one that would allow law enforcement to see through into Mexico.