President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that he says is aimed at “rebuilding" the United States military while advocating "peace through strength."
Speaking at the Pentagon, the president said "The rebuilding of the United States Armed Forces" called for new planes, new ships and new resources for the men and women in uniform.
"As we prepare our budget request for Congress, our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace, we do want peace," Trump said.
New U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley echoed those comments at the United Nations Friday announcing a new way the U.S. does business. The Trump administration's goal is to show U.S. strength, speak out, and defend its allies — and as for countries opposing America, "We're taking names," said Haley.
Trump announced the plans, though the details of the order were not immediately clear, following a ceremonial swearing-in for his new Defense Secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis.
"[Mattis] is a man of honor and action, he likes action, he's the right man at the right time and he'll do us proud," Trump said.
Earlier Friday, questions over whether Trump would allow the use of torture, the U.S.-Mexico relationship and the future of sanctions on Russia — dominated the new president's brief news conference after his first meeting with another world leader.
Trump, joined by British Prime Minister Theresa May at a White House news conference, said that his defense secretary's opposition to torture would override his own belief that enhanced interrogation "does work," addressing concerns about a return to Bush-era use of waterboarding and other especially harsh procedures.
Trump was asked if he was considering lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia ahead of an expected Saturday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump was noncommittal, saying "We'll see what happens. As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that."
Since taking office, Trump has signaled a renewed embrace of torture in the fight against Islamic extremism. But he said he would defer to the views of his defense secretary, James Mattis, who has questioned the effectiveness of such practices as waterboarding, which simulates drowning.
"He has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding, or however you want to define it. ... I don't necessarily agree. But I would tell you that he will override because I'm giving him that power. He's an expert," Trump said. He called Mattis a "general's general," whom he would rely upon.
The focus on torture has been renewed since The Associated Press and other news organizations obtained a copy of a draft executive order that signals sweeping changes to U.S. interrogation and detention policy.
The draft order, which the White House said was not official, also would reverse President Barack Obama's effort to close the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — a place Trump has said he wants to fill up "with bad dudes."
The draft orders up recommendations on whether the U.S. should reopen CIA detention facilities outside the United States. Critics said the clandestine sites have marred America's image on the world stage.
Trump also spoke of his hour-long phone call with Pena Nieto earlier in the day. He described it as a "friendly call" a day after the Mexican leader canceled his visit to Washington after Trump moved forward on his campaign promise to build a border wall.
Trump reiterated his stance that the US-Mexico border is porous and drugs are making their way into the U.S.
He also vowed to renegotiate American trade deals with Mexico.
"We're no longer going to be the country that doesn't know what it's doing," Trump declared.
Following the cancellation, Trump's spokesman said the White House would seek to pay for the border wall by slapping a 20 percent tax on all imports from Mexico, as well as on other countries the U.S. has a trade deficit with. The White House later cast the proposal as just one option to pay for the wall.
The strong reaction from Mexico signaled a remarkable souring of relations between Washington and one of its most important international partners just days into the new administration. The U.S. and Mexico conduct some $1.6 billion a day in cross-border trade, and cooperate on everything from migration to drug enforcement to major environmental issues.
Trump also appeared to withhold judgment on whether he would continue the sanctions that the Obama administration and the European Union slapped Moscow with for its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Relations have changed over Ukraine, Putin's backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad and allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.
May, meanwhile, said the United Kingdom supports the continuity of sanctions until the 2015 Minsk agreement on ending the conflict is fully implemented.