Navy leaders who control the service's purse strings since the defense budget cuts laid out in the Budget Control Act: No new programs or platforms.
Nothing summed up that feeling more than the last question asked at a panel held at the Navy's League's 2012 Sea-Air-Space Exposition. A woman, who said she worked at China Lake, stood up and asked the heads of Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command, Space and Navy Warfare Systems Command, Marine Corps Systems Command, Coast Guard Acquisition and Naval Supply Systems Command if they had extra money in their budgets to spend on one program or platform, what would it be?
Not one vice admiral, rear admiral or brigadier general took the bait. Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley, head of Marine Corps Systems Command, came the closest saying he would support the efforts of Bill Taylor, Program Executive Officer Land Systems Marine Corps, in his pursuit of the Amphibious Combat Vehicle.
"I'm sure the right answer is to support [the Joint Strike Fighter] and the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, but what I would do and I hope I will still have my job when I leave is make sure I have the right people to support Bill Taylor to do the job as the PEO of Land Systems, specifically the Amphibious Combat Vehicle," Kelley said tongue in cheek.
The rest touted different versions of sustainment programs to keep what's old still sailing or flying.
Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy, head of Naval Sea Systems Command, said he would invest any extra funding he received in the budget to make cost efficient infrastructure improve to the shipyards. There is not a near term return in the investments his team has recommended, thus he couldn't squeeze it into this budget, but McCoy said they must be done.
Vice Adm. David Architzel, head of Naval Air Systems Command, would sink any extra dollars he received into keeping his current fleet airborne. He would invest in additional logistics and engineering to keep the fleet healthy. No mention of new aircraft.
Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, head of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, would spend his money to "accelerate the roll out" of Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services.
"It's the biggest bang for the buck that I could make for the warfighter today," Brady said.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joseph Korn, assistant commandant for Acquisition, broke the rules of the question and didn't pick one specific program. He would just sink any penny he could to accelerate or keep alive any of the program the Coast Guard has underway.
Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich, head of Naval Supply Systems Command, chose training. He said knowledge of the Navy's Enterprise Resource Planning program will drive improvement in Naval logisitics better than any new program or gadget.