From NBC's Courtney Kube
Here is a little post-election truth squad on two claims in President Obama's speech today ...
Obama: "We'll raise military pay."
Fact: The President's budget calls for a 2.9% increase in pay for members of the military -- but pay for members of the military increases every year.
Secretary Gates spoke about pay raises during yesterday's briefing, saying, "Two years ago, we went to the Hill with about the same request. It was 3 percent. And last year, we went with a request for 3.5 percent. In both cases, the Congress added to it. But it's not all that different from what we submitted in the past."
Pentagon requests for pay increase:
FY09: 3.4% increase
FY08: 3.0% increase
FY07: 2.2% increase
FY06: 3.1% increase
FY03 saw one of the larger pay raises in years, with a 4.1% increase in base salary for active and reserve troops.
Obama: "I am increasing the number of soldiers and Marines, so that we lessen the burden on those who are serving."
Fact: This was actually a President Bush initiative -- he introduced it during the speech announcing the surge in Iraq. Both the Army and Marine Corps have been growing for more than two years now, and they are both growing ahead of schedule. The FY10 budget will likely be the last one to fund their increases.
Defense Secretary Bob Gates first spoke about this at a briefing on Jan. 11, 2007:
"First, the president announced last night that he would strengthen our military for the long war against terrorism by authorizing an increase in the overall strength of the Army and the Marine Corps. I am recommending to him a total increase in the two services of 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years -- 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines. The emphasis will be on increasing combat capability. ... We propose to build up from that base in annual increments of 7,000 troops a year for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps until the Marine Corps reaches a level of 202,000, and the Army would be at 547,000."
Courtney Kube covers the Pentagon as a producer for NBC News.