Big changes brewing in the Pentagon, over how the U.S. defense budget
is divvied up. For decades, the procurement (of weapons and equipment) budget
was; Air Force got 36 percent, the Navy 33 percent, the Army 16 percent and
various Department of Defense agencies 15 percent. For a long time, that was
justified by the need to confront an arms race the Soviet Union started in the
early 1960s. The Russians were building lots of new jet fighters and warships.
The U.S. responded. But now the Soviet Union, and its vast fleets of aircraft
and warships, are gone. In the last twenty years, the army and marines have
been doing most of the fighting, and dying, for the United States. The U.S.
Navy has not fought a major battle since 1944, the U.S. Air Force has not faced
any major opposition since the 1972 air raids on North Vietnam. But soldiers
and marines are out there every day, doing the deed. The army has shown that
technology can make soldiers, as well as pilots and sailors, more deadly and
less vulnerable. But the 36:33:16 allocation "rule" for procurement is a hard
one to break. And it's considered bad manners inside the Pentagon to change a
traditional arrangement like this. But the army is doing just that. Quietly so
far, but the noise level will be going up shortly. For a long time, there
simply was not a lot of expensive technology for the ground forces. Now there
is, and the troops want the bucks to buy the stuff that will make them
deadlier, and less vulnerable. The air force and navy are aware that they are
on the defensive here, and clever spin will only do so much. Expect to hear a
lot more interesting noise out of the Pentagon on this subject, leading to a
noticeable revision of the 36:33:16 rule.