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Infighting in Pentagon After Navy Refuses to Cut $17 Billion from Budget

Flickr/ U.S. Pacific Fleet

When US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter ordered Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to trim the military branch’s budget by billions of dollars, he probably did not expect the Navy Secretary to rebuke his request.

Carter told Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to scale back expenditures by some $17 billion. Instead, Mabus retorted that since the shipbuilding program requires significant time to complete each ship, he would reject his boss’s proposal, the Navy Times reports. Mabus had previously set a goal to restore the US Navy fleet to 308 maritime vessels. Reducing spending on the shipbuilding program is difficult to reverse, Mabus argued. Alternatively, if the shipbuilding program is left unscathed, the Navy Secretary would be required to make cuts to other operations, a move he considered overly harsh.

The budget debates concern fiscal year 2018. But with President-elect Donald Trump assuming the Oval Office in January 2017, defense hawks are likely to rejoice, as they are confident that the Trump administration will foment a significant military buildup, Politico reports. For Mabus’ part, he has tried to convince other Pentagon officials that, since Trump wants to increase the US Navy to 350 ships, agreeing to budget cuts is foolhardy.

The political “games” between the Carter and Mabus camps “have gone on for months,” a senior DoD official told the Navy Times, adding, “this is just a small example.”

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