President Barack Obama has put together a high-powered team of political, uniformed and civilian appointees at the Navy Department.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is a politician’s politician with strong Gulf Coast/shipyard connections. He was an active Obama supporter in the Deep South, especially in the early primaries, and is former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia with good international connections. He reminds some observers of Bill Clinton, and was Mississippi Governor when Clinton was chief executive next door in Arkansas.
Under Secretary Robert Work generates a lot of Pentagon tip sheet discussion as a thorough defense intellectual, though there are real worries about his anti-aircraft carrier views in pre-government publications at CSBA. Work is a candid, hard-working fellow, but has a choke-hold on all decisions as they flow up to Sec. Mabus. They share the same box on the Navy Department’s org chart.
Beneath Mabus and Work are a phalanx of political and military talent, from former Capitol Hill operatives Bill Natter and Brian Detter to ex-Navy officers like Sean Stackley and Mark Gorenflo.
The CNO, Admiral Gary Roughead, has a big Navy, power projection, global vision. The Obama-Gates vision encompasses a smaller, weaker U.S. Navy. Those two visions are clashing, and it will get ugly. The Mabus secretariate is perfectly staffed and positioned to help sort it all out.
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