Navy undersecretary Robert Work took the budget fight to the Army last week, challenging its potential role in a post-Afghanistan rebalance to the Pacific and predicting “a golden age of American seapower” despite budgetary uncertainty:
The Department of the Navy is well positioned regardless... to make a play for a good share of the budget.
His comments implicate the historically consistent one-third distribution of service budget shares, but dramatic change seems unlikely. The Army has already dug its trench in this battle: Secretary of the Army John McHugh emphasized last year that he wanted the one-third rule to hold, and strategy-minded expectations to the contrary were upended when the budget roll-out in February actually increased the Army’s share of the Pentagon budget.
When pressed, in fact, even Work admitted that breaking this rule is unlikely. Although his remarks may contrast with the services’ longstanding budget collusion, it seems he also understands that competition would result in no clear winner and that the other services’ positions are just as firm as his.