US President Donald Trump's push for a massive military build-up has been hit by budget caps and political hurdles in Washington, which could prevent Congress giving him what he wants.

A new report by the US Studies Centre found Trump wants a big defence spending increase to meet the country's growing needs and obligations.

However Congress is more likely to pass only a modest increase in spending next year.

The report, Trump, Congress and the 2018 Defence Budget: A Primer for Australia, also revealed this could have huge implications for the military if the Pentagon is unable to get the money it needs.

Advertisement
The Asia Pacific region is expected to remain a priority for US defence spending, a new report has revealed. Photo / US Air Force / Getty
The Asia Pacific region is expected to remain a priority for US defence spending, a new report has revealed. Photo / US Air Force / Getty

Researchers Dougal Robinson, Brendan Thomas-Noone and Ashley Townshend found partisan politics could affect America's ability to act as a serious global presence.

Researchers also found while Australia should welcome sustained US military engagement in the region, it "must remain cautious about Washington's ability to reverse the long-term impact of budget uncertainty on the armed forces".

According to the report, politics is preventing "sensible and strategic defence budget planning".

However, while there is so solution in sight for the current crisis, the report found America's strategic presence in Asia is likely to remain a high priority in the next budget cycle.

"US Congress has emphasised the need to strengthen regional capabilities in response to Chinese and North Korean challenges, including by increasing co-operation with allies and bolstering extended deterrence," the report reads.

A defence budget stall could hit America's ability to conduct exercises and drills across the Asian-Pacific. Photo / US Air Force / Getty
A defence budget stall could hit America's ability to conduct exercises and drills across the Asian-Pacific. Photo / US Air Force / Getty

According to the report, Trump has been pushing for an increase in defence spending due to the cost of ongoing conflicts across the globe including in the Middle East.

Growing operational demands in Europe and Asia were also taking a taxing toll on defence spending.

"The US military cannot continue to modernise and fix these 'military readiness' problems without greater political certainty and a commitment to higher spending," it reveals.

The President is pushing for an increase of $667.6 billion, an increase of $25 billion.

Speaking to news.com.au from Washington Thomas-Noone said the biggest surprise in the report was how intractable the politics is around defence spending in the US.

"Even with a Republican-controlled Congress and White House, there is little optimism on the Hill that the Pentagon is going to get a significant boost," he said.

Thomas-Noone said the US defence budget is tied up with all the politics over the Republicans domestic agenda and warned Trump might not get the deal he was after.

"Unless a broader deal is made, which would also have to include the President, then it's unlikely he will get his way," Thomas-Noone said.

He also said if this could result in a budget stall unless a deal was reached by December which could in turn prevent planning and training exercises and hamper the Defense Department.

This photo by the US Navy shows joint manoeuvres with Japan's defence force in the Philippine Sea. The US Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years. Photo / Getty
This photo by the US Navy shows joint manoeuvres with Japan's defence force in the Philippine Sea. The US Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years. Photo / Getty

Thomas-Noone said the defence budget issues could have ramifications for Australia but believed the Asia Pacific would remain a priority in terms of US defence spending.

"For now, it seems that the Indo-Pacific is being prioritised in terms of budgetary resources," he said,

"Both of the proposed budgets from the House and Senate list specific Indo-Pacific initiatives like more ballistic missile defence in Hawaii and strategic funds.

"This is encouraging from an Australian point of view in light of the growing strain on US resources globally."

Both the White House and the Pentagon can make budget requests for defence, but the final figure is decided by Congress.

In July, the House has passed a National Defense Authorisation Act of $696 billion, while the Senate's version of this bill totalled $700 billion and was passed on 18 September, the report revealed.

"The final defence budget, however, is the product of difficult compromises, and there are significant currents working against higher spending," it reads.

Senator John McCain is among the national security hawks who are insisting the military branches are at risk of losing their edge in combat without a dramatic influx of money to repair shortfalls in training and equipment.