2010 Defense Spending Plan Leaves
Most Navy, Marine Programs Intact
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates took a swipe at
many of the military’s priciest procurement programs when he unveiled his fiscal 2010 budget proposal in early April, but most Navy and Marine Corps programs likely will survive a sweeping set of cuts — at
least for now.
Gates has proposed some adjustments for Department
of Navy programs, and he recommended killing the troubled VH- 71 presidential helicopter, a program managed
by the Navy that has seen its costs skyrocket from $6.1
billion to $13 billion over the last four years.
The biggest cut for Navy shipbuilding is ending the
DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer program after the
third ship rather than building the seven that had been
Instead, Gates said during a press briefing April 6, the
service would buy more of the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, which service leaders
have argued provide ballistic-missile defense and other
capabilities combatant commanders need.
Meanwhile, the defense secretary said he wants to
buy three Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) next year —
the number the Navy had planned for and one more
than this year. Gates also endorsed the Navy’s plans to
buy a total of 55 LCSs.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, left, delivers a press
briefing about the fiscal 2010 budget at the Pentagon April 6
with Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Despite a history of problems
with cost overruns on the ship,
Gates called the LCS a “key capability for presence, stability and counterinsurgency operations in coastal
regions,” making them integral to
his growing emphasis on more nontraditional operations.
One day after Gates unveiled his
2010 budget proposal, Marine
Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
similarly lauded the LCS as a key
program for the future Navy,
telling bloggers that it is “a capability that we believe we’re going to
need, and in quantities that we
believe are going to have to be significant.”
In total, Gates said his recommendations, which at press time
had not yet been formally approved
by President Barack Obama, “are
the product of a holistic assessment
of capabilities, requirements, risks
and needs for the purpose of shifting this department in a different
But Gates’ decisions stop short
of dramatically overhauling the
Navy’s or Marine Corps’ modernization plans, as he did when he
recommended scrapping the vehicle portion of the Army’s $160 billion Future Combat Systems program, leaving the service without a
future ground vehicle strategy.
“Gates’ proposed actions relating to Navy ships did not go so far
as some observers had speculated
or expected,” said Ron O’Rourke, a
naval analyst at the nonpartisan
SEAPOWER / MAY 2009