President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would make a massive budget request for one of the "greatest military buildups in American history" on Friday in a feisty, campaign-style speech extolling robust nationalism to eager conservative activists.
Trump used remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an organisation that gave him one of his first platforms in his improbable journey to the US presidency, to defend his unabashed "America first" policies.
Ahead of a nationally televised speech to Congress on Tuesday, Trump outlined plans for strengthening the US military, already the world's most powerful fighting force, and other initiatives such as tax reform and regulatory rollback.
He offered few specifics on any initiatives, including the budget request that is likely to face a harsh reality on Capitol Hill: At a time when he wants to slash taxes for Americans, funding a major military buildup without spending cuts elsewhere would add substantially to the US budget deficit.
Trump said he would aim to upgrade the military in both offensive and defensive capabilities, with a massive spending request to Congress that would make the country's defence "bigger and better and stronger than ever before".
"And, hopefully, we'll never have to use it, but nobody is going to mess with us. Nobody. It will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history," Trump said.
Appealing to people on welfare to go to work and pledging to follow through on his vow to build a wall on the US-Mexican border, Trump drew rounds of applause from the large gathering of conservatives, many of them wearing hats emblazoned with the president's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again".
His speech was heavy on the nationalist overtones from his campaign last year, focussing on promises to boost US economic growth by retooling international trade deals, cracking down on immigration and increasing energy production.
Trump is looking to put behind him a rocky first month in office. An executive order he signed aimed at banning US entry by people from seven Muslim-majority countries became embroiled in the courts (See: US judge puts Trump's visa ban on hold after states' challenge)
and he had to fire his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for Russian contacts (Flynn axed for hiding details of Russian links: White House). With the federal budget still running a large deficit, Trump will have to fight to get higher military spending through Congress. In his speech, he complained about spending caps put in place on the defence budget dating back to 2011.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump's proposed budget for this year "will be very clear" on how to fund the military spending increase.