The Navy has refused to cut $17 billion dollars from its 2018 budget. Earlier this year Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Navy to begin cutting major shipbuilding programs and requested the Navy submit a 2018 budget that eliminates $17 billion over the course of five years. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has vehemently opposed the budget cuts, arguing that the Navy fleet must grow to 308 ships and that budget cuts must not be directed at the ship building program.
Mabus argues that cutting the shipbuilding programs is contrary to President-Elect Donald Trump’s plan to grow the Navy and strengthen the United States Military. Mabus states that the shipbuilding program is the “least reversible” item to cut from the budget due to the long and overwhelming nature of building these ships. The Navy has developed some budgets that cut $17 billion while still preserving the shipbuilding programs. However, the cost of maintaining and repairing the existing fleet as it continues to grow makes the proposed cuts intolerable.
Carter argues that the Navy should focus on investing in high-tech weapons systems and aircraft. He also states that both groups, those that oppose cutting shipbuilding from the budget and those that support it, must comply with the 2011 Budget Control Act while maintaining the United States Navy’s military edge. Carter told reporters:
“The SECNAV’s decision is emblematic of the challenge the Navy faced since the BCA was enacted in 2011, Operational demands continue to grow while the fleet remains the same size or shrinks. Ships and their crews don’t have time to train and maintain their ships, and they are increasingly reliant on supplemental funding which cannot be planned for in advance.”
Mabus and Carter have been arguing over the issue for months and there seems to be no end to the conflict in sight. A defense official told Navy Times that infighting between the two has been a major obstacle:
“The games between Carter’s team and Mabus’ team have gone on for months, This is just a small example.”
Carter claims that the best way to improve the readiness of the U.S. Navy is to focus on the development of high-tech missiles and systems to boost the current fleet’s capabilities. Mabus and other defense officials that support the ship building program continue to argue that President-elect Donald Trump is “on the record saying he wants to grow the size of the Navy to 350 ships” and is unlikely to support any cuts to the program.