Comparing Biden and Trump on defense issues as election nears

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The presidential elections are less than a month away and this year military and defense issues are mostly on the backburner.

Both President Donald Trump and former-Vice President Joe Biden are still courting military votes, however.

Biden is focusing his platform on service members and their families, rather than touting weapons systems.

His platform includes paying service members a competitive wage, providing military families with resources and prioritizing support for military children.

That translates to researching and developing solutions to increase the time between permanent changes of station (PCS) while ensuring the military’s demands are met.

“One such solution could be investing in the creation of virtual or hybrid learning scenarios for mandatory professional military education so that service members and their families can remain in place, rather than PCS to a new base for a short educational tour,” Biden’s website states.

His platform continues the Defense Department’s work to reduce military spouse unemployment. State governors and military groups have been working on the issue for the past few years.

Biden proposes investing $500 million in a three-year DoD military spouse entrepreneurship program. It will give micro-grants, mentorships and technical assistance to spouses growing small businesses.

Biden would also try to make more inroads between the military and industry for spousal hiring and put an end to some occupational licenses to make it easier for spouses to move and find jobs in new states. A lot of that work is already moving through the states and Congress.

The Democratic platform calls for guaranteeing safe housing for service members. More than 18 months ago, Congress heard about widespread reports of mice, mold and lead paint in privatized military housing.

Biden says he will enforce the tenant bill of rights passed by Congress and require regular objective reporting of military satisfaction with housing. He will also publicly outline expectations of quality and consequences for all housing providers. Biden’s platform would terminate long-term leases held by private companies if those expectations are not met. DoD, so far, has only implemented 14 of the 18 privileges outlined in the bill of rights.

“We must anticipate and prepare solutions that respond to the evolving needs of military families across the military life cycle,” Biden’s site states. “We must be able to track and identify emerging trends so that we can be nimble and responsive to the changing needs of our military families.”

To do that, a Biden administration would convene a multi-disciplinary working group of policymakers and subject matter expects to inform solutions to support military families.

Specific resources for research and development would also be set aside for resources in military family and community policy and the Defense Health Program.

The Trump administration’s website does not explicitly outline any new policies for defense, but rather spells out what the White House has done over the past few years.

Under Trump, the military has seen increases in the budget every year. One of his top priorities after taking office was building readiness in the military.

Trump has pushed for more budget increases for the military in the future as well.

Under his presidency service members have received pay increases every year, the most recent being a 3.1% raise.

Trump is also touting the creation of the Space Force as a way to protect U.S. assets in space and the elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a full combatant commander. Both of those achievements originated from bipartisan bills in Congress from before the Trump presidency.

The administration is also playing up its work with North Korea, Iran and Russia.

“The Trump Administration has applied numerous sanctions against Russia for its malicious cyber activities, its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and its chemical weapons use,” the president’s website states.

During his tenure, Trump has found himself in the middle of many issues that presidents usually do not meddle in.

He has been critical of the F-35 program and its cost. In 2017, he took the military by surprise in announcing that he would ban transgender people from service. That policy was walked back a bit, but there are still restrictions on transgender people who are going through certain aspects of transitioning.

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