By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsAugust 14, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 13, 2018) -- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces can expect a significant bump in their salaries - the largest in nearly a decade - after President Donald Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act during a visit to Fort Drum, New York, on Aug. 13.
"I'm here today to sign the new defense bill into law, and to pay tribute to the greatest Soldiers in the history of the world, the United States Army," said Trump in front of an audience of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers. "The National Defense Authorization Act is the most significant investment in our military, in our warfighters, in modern history."
The NDAA will support the Department of Defense's push to further strengthen the readiness and capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces with a national defense budget of $716 billion, which raises service members pay by 2.6 percent.
"I want to say that there is no better place than right here at Fort Drum to celebrate its passage," Trump said. "After years of devastating cuts, we're now rebuilding our military like we never have before, ever."
Trump said that with the cooperation of Congress, the passage of this bill will increase the military's authorized active-duty end strength by more than 15,000, and it provides new authorities to rebuild the military's arsenal.
"We would not be here for today's signing ceremony without the dedicated efforts of the members of Congress who worked so hard to pass the National Defense Authorization Act," he said.
During his visit to Fort Drum, Trump met with senior leaders and observed an air assault demonstration and sling load operation. During his speech, Trump thanked the Soldiers from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade and 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, who showcased their skills.
He welcomed back Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, 10th Mountain Division (LI) commanding general, who recently redeployed from Iraq. Trump also met with Spc. Michael Lima, from 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, who won the Soldier of the Year competition at Fort Drum and will advance to the XVIII Airborne Corps competition.
He also acknowledged the strong contingent of spouses in the audience and mentioned one family readiness group leader who has an impressive record of unit support and volunteer work.
By signing the National Defense Authorization Act, he said that it will provide warfighters with the firepower they need to win any conflict, quickly and decisively.
"America will always rise to every challenge, and overcome every danger because we are backed by the strength and power of the American Soldier," Trump said. "America's future is safe, sound and brighter than ever, because each of you is Mountain Tough, Mountain Proud and Mountain Strong, and always will be Climbing to Glory."
Trump was introduced on the stage by Vice President Mike Pence, who lauded the signing of the NDAA as decisive action to make the strongest military in history even stronger. He thanked the audience for being part of the historic signing of the NDAA.
"All of you chose to be part of something larger than yourselves," he said. "You've chosen to serve in the Armed Forces of the United State of America. You have a champion in the 45th President of the United States of America."