There has been speculation that as the potential for a shrinking Defense Department pie grows, so will the level of interservice rivalry for funds. NPR’s Rachel Martin reported Thursday on Morning Edition that in the upcoming defense budget battle each service branch is going to advocate for those programs that it believes is crucial to itself--to the detriment of the other branches. Although she provides plenty of evidence of the services advocating for themselves, she doesn’t provide much evidence the services will attack each other. The one expert who did say they would attack each other emphasized it would be in private. Her other expert, former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim, explicitly said they wouldn’t attack each other:
The difficulty is that each of the services feels very vulnerable for different reasons and therefore is making a case for why it should be spared more than the others without actually attacking the others.
We might even go further. As Sharon K. Weiner, an Associate Professor of U.S. Foreign Policy at the School of International Service at American University, once wrote:
The resource battles of the 1950s made the military keenly aware of the consequences of interservice rivalry. Determined to minimize civilian interference in the future, in the 1960s the services developed routines that encouraged compromise and internalized dissent.*
As we pointed out in a previous post, the effect has been very stable shares of the budget for each service. Maybe budget cuts will test those routines, but Martin seems to be jumping the gun at seeing signs it’s happening already.
*Sharon K. Weiner, “The Politics of Resource Allocation in the Post–Cold War Pentagon,” Security Studies 5, no. 4 (Summer1996): 125.