Carlucci Says Webb 'Never Talked to Me'

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci said today that James H. Webb never came to him to protest cuts in the Navy's budget before abruptly resigning as secretary of the Navy with a blast at Carlucci's leadership.

Carlucci told the House Armed Services Committee that he had been forced to make "tough choices" in cutting the growth of the defense budget. He warned the reductions mean "increasing risks to our national security."

Carlucci said Webb "never came to me with any protests on budget cuts nor was I aware of his intention to resign until his letter landed on my desk.'

Later, Carlucci said Webb "never elected to come and talk to me."

In resigning, Webb accused Carlucci of scuttling plans to achieve the Administration's longstanding goal of a 600-ship Navy. He said that could have been achieved even within the budgetary limits imposed by Congress and the White House.

Carlucci, referring to his decision to retire 16 aging frigates, said the creation of a 600-ship Navy was not abandoned, only delayed until later in the 1990s.

On Tuesday, Reagan named William L. Ball III, a soft-spoken Southerner with a reputation as a savvy, behind-the-scenes negotiator to replace the pugnacious, controversial Webb.

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