While the Pentagon can always count on getting a preposterous amount of funding in any given year, the question of how to spend all of that money is always a matter of at least some debate. This year, fighting over the $580 billion request has several top military figures in “open revolt” against Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The loudest complaints are coming from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who is angry that Carter is trying to scale back plans for the littoral combat ship, with his officials mocking opponents as “naysayers.” Carter is seen preferring to spend the money on fighter jets.
Mabus’ argument has centered on wanting a large number of overall ships, while Carter has complained the Navy is focusing on quantity over lethality. The Lockheed Martin-made littoral ships are cheaper than most, allowing the Navy to have more ships, but are seen as unable to stand up to combat.
Quantity is also fueling a fight with the nominated Army Secretary, Eric Fanning, who is condemning budget plans that would shrink the number of ground troops to shift that money to weapons projects. Fanning says the target for 450,000 active-duty Army forces should no longer apply, because the plan was made two years ago “when we didn’t have ISIS, we didn’t have Russia.”