White House Aide Named Navy Secretary
President Reagan today named White House lobbyist William L. Ball III to be secretary of the Navy as the Administration offered swift and strong support for Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci a day after James H. Webb Jr. resigned with a blast at his boss and his attempts to curb Pentagon spending.
“The budget restructuring under way at the Pentagon now is a difficult and painful process,” said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater. “Secretary Carlucci is doing an admirable job. He’s quite capable and suitable to the task and he’s carrying out the President’s policies in that regard.”
Ball’s nomination requires Senate confirmation.
‘A Strong Advocate’
Ball has been Reagan’s assistant for legislative affairs since February, 1986. A one-time chief clerk of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ball served at times as administrative assistant to former Sens. Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.) and John Tower (R-Tex.).
Discussing Ball’s selection, Fitzwater said, “All of us who know him here at the White House know that the Navy is getting a strong advocate and a strong fighter both on the Hill as well as in any of the other courts of public opinion around the country.”
While defending Carlucci, Fitzwater also offered words of praise for the departed Webb.
“The President appreciates the service of James Webb,” Fitzwater said.
‘The Honorable Thing’
He said that Webb “felt he could not support” the Administration’s policy and that “he did the honorable thing. But his service was nevertheless distinguished, and the President appreciates it very much.”
Announcing his resignation Monday, Webb accused Carlucci of needlessly sinking the Administration’s dream of a 600-ship fleet. (Story on Page 5.)
Fitzwater said the 600-ship Navy “has been our goal for some time. The budgetary restrictions now have moved that target back” from fiscal 1989 to about 1992.
Ball will be succeeded at the White House by his deputy, Alan Kranowicz.