Those U.S. ships “would be in a good position to engage medium-range ballistic missiles going into the Sea of Japan, which is where the previous North Korean test shots have gone,” said Bryan Clark, a naval analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who previously served as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations. That presence off of Japan means that “when the Vinson gets there, it will not need to bring additional BMD capability,” Clark added, referring to ballistic missile defense.
There is enough political support for the Coast Guard to prevent massive cuts along the lines of what appeared in the predecisional budget draft, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. But that doesn’t mean the service will receive the money it was aiming for in its five-year budget plan. “You may find that they do end up with some kind of reduction because the negotiated result ends up being between the two” numbers proposed by the White House and the Coast Guard, he said. “Then the question will be: can they make the cuts in such a way that they [don’t] take it all out of procurement or modernization? … They are in a very, very vulnerable position right now having three major programs in the procurement pipeline,” he added.
Kate Blakeley, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments who previously worked at the Congressional Research Service, said Democrats are in a good negotiating position. “Democrats have some leverage, because you need eight Democrats to pass this spending bill in the Senate,” she said. “The Democrats are keeping mum, but they would have a hard time not passing a relatively clean bill that keeps non-defense discretionary spending at the [2011 Budget Control Act] level, without deep cuts. Democrats might also accept more OCO money than the $5 billion in the House appropriations bill if that’s the price of a good, clean bill.”
It would have been a quick and easy fix if the military had simply sent out a press release detailing Vinson’s plans and clarifying the initial release, said Brian Clark, retired Navy officer who was a senior aide to former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. A flawed narrative might have been stopped in its tracks and prevented rattling a region on the brink of conflict, he said. “It’s really shocking that they let this go for nearly two weeks without trying to correct the record,” he said.
The five months DoD has to spend its newly appropriated funds really won’t be that hard, Katherine Blakeley, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told Federal News Radio. “They’ve been anticipating this [money] for literally over a year at this point. They submitted the fiscal 2017 request way back in February of 2016, we are not almost seven months through the fiscal year. They’ve had a lot of time to think and to plan and to prepare,” Blakeley said. “They have a really good sense of where all this funding is going to go.”
“It was aimed at both our allies and adversaries, and it appears to have worked, to some degree,” said Eric S. Edelman, a former undersecretary of defense for policy during George W. Bush’s administration who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University. But Mr. Edelman drew some critical distinctions between the two presidents. Nixon’s “madman” act generally masked a calculated strategy, which is not yet evident in Mr. Trump’s approach. Nixon’s national-security team was better coordinated than Mr. Trump’s, at least so far. And even in Nixon’s case, the madman strategy worked better later in his presidency, when he and his aides were more seasoned.