As President Donald Trump heads to Asia for a three-country tour, the Pentagon is taking steps to bolster its ranks, sending more troops to the Middle East and Africa to bolster an already large force of American troops.
In the months leading up to his trip, the Trump Administration is announcing plans to hire 2,500 new military members, with another 5,000 planned for 2018, according to the Pentagon.
“We’re continuing to build up the forces that we already have,” Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. military officer in Africa, said at a Pentagon press conference in April.
The military has already seen an uptick in recruitment in the region, as the region continues to experience the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated coastal cities in southern China.
During his time in office, Trump has promised to “bomb out” ISIS, but that has not yet materialized.
As the war in Syria rages, the U.N. says the U, Russia, Iran and Turkey are arming and training groups including al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, and ISIS, as well as other armed groups.
In addition, a U.K.-based anti-ISIS coalition, the Combined Joint Task Force, announced on Thursday that it is deploying additional troops to Afghanistan to bolster the Afghan security forces and bolster security on the southern border with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has also made it a priority to beef up the U’s forces in Africa.
Last week, the White House announced a $600 million increase to its Africa-focused military budget, adding nearly 100,000 soldiers and officers, including nearly 60,000 military police, in Africa alone.
It’s a shift from the Obama administration, which was more concerned with Africa than Asia.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump called for a “huge troop buildup” in Africa as part of a plan to “get rid of ISIS.”
Trump’s decision to bolster U.L.G.A., the U-Lan and the Southern Command, as part the troop surge has led to concerns in some African countries that the military will not be able to protect their citizens and their territory.
“It’s the first time since World War II that the U was putting American troops in Africa to do what they are supposed to do,” said David Mihaly, who served as a senior Pentagon official in the Obama years.
“[Trump] is clearly taking the wrong approach and is going to leave the African countries with a big mess,” he said.
“He’s putting a lot of American boots on the ground in Africa and they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The Trump administration’s Africa troop surge will reportedly begin soon, as a portion of the funds allocated to Africa will be transferred to the U.-Lan, an African military command based in Senegal.