Only exacerbating the budget
issue is the likelihood that the military will operate under a stopgap
continuing resolution for at least
the first part of the fiscal year, and
that is actually becoming a best-case scenario for the Defense
Department and other agencies.
The threat of a full-scale government shutdown continues to loom
large as the two parties remain
locked in disagreement over federal spending levels.
Those negotiations, which will
play out on Capitol Hill through-
out the fall, will have long-lasting
consequences for military plans
and priorities and, in turn, help
define the tenures of Dunford,
Neller and Richardson.
The Pentagon’s 2016 budget proposal blew past mandated spending
caps by $38 billion, forcing lawmakers to either make deep cuts to the
services’ requests — including trimming prized weapons programs —
or come to an agreement to increase
spending for defense.
Republicans in both chambers
responded by shifting base-budget
dollars into the war account,
which is not subject to budget
caps, to make up the difference
between the request and the caps.
But Senate Democrats have vowed
to block spending bills — and
President Barack Obama has
threatened to veto any that actually
reach his desk — if there is not a
broader agreement that also pro-
vides relief for domestic programs.
Over the last several months, military leaders have made the case that
they simply need more money to
train and equip the force. Indeed,
Dunford was very to-the-point during his July 9 confirmation hearing
before the Senate Armed Services
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 6 SEAPOWER / SEPTEMBER 2015
Budget Battle Presents Tall Order
For New Navy, Marine Corps Chiefs
As the new leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps take over the reins of their respective services
this month, they face no shortage of challenges, with
worldwide threats ranging from the Islamic State terrorist group to potential adversaries like Russia, Iran
and China. But it’s the budget battle within the Beltway
itself that could present the most difficult early hurdles
for the newly installed leaders.
Just before leaving for the month-long August recess,
the Senate confirmed a new slate of military leaders,
including ADM John M. Richardson to be chief of naval
operations and LtGen Robert B. Neller as the next commandant of the Marine Corps. Days earlier, the Senate
green-lighted the nomination of current Marine Corps
Commandant Gen Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to be the next
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.
While the Senate cleared the decks of those and other
outstanding military nominees, lawmakers left town
with a cloud of uncertainty over the outlook for spending for the 2016 fiscal year that will begin just three
weeks after they return to Washington — and whether
the military will receive any relief from the stringent
budgetary caps that will go back in place in January.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed
Services Committee, LtGen Robert B. Neller, who joined
the Marine Corps during the post-Vietnam “hollow force,”
said he was concerned about the impact persistent budget uncertainty could have on recruitment and retention.
Neller, who was confirmed to become the next Marine
Corps commandant on Aug. 5, is shown here during a visit
to Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 3 while he was commanding general, Marine Corps Forces Command.