There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the military is going to get everything it asks for in the new Reagan budget. But it's easier to give money to the Pentagon than it is to spend it. All the service want their mitts on the new funds, and once it's been okayed, we may see internecine battles between the armed forces, the likes of which this country has never witnessed before.
As soon as Congress appropriates the money, it will be delivered in a Brink's truck to the doorstep of the Pentagon, where high-ranking officers of the four branches of services will be waiting for it.
An admiral will say to the Brink's employes, "Okay, men, bring the money up to the safe in the Navy procurement office."
"The hell you say," an Air Force general will shout. "That money is going for our MX missile program. The Air Force needs every penny of it, and more."
An Army four-star general will chip in, "Keep your hands off those bags. They've been set aside to build up our conventional forces."
"In a pig's ear," the admiral says. "Every cent has been allotted for new nuclear carriers and anti-submarine ships."
"What about me?" a Marine Corps general says.
"Oh shut up," the Army general says.
The Brink's driver is annoyed. "Will you guys make up your minds? We have to go to lunch."
"I talked to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and they said we could build a new bomber with this money," the Air Force general says, trying to grab one of the bags.
The Army general pushes him. "Keep your hands off that bag. That's going for our M-60 tank."
"President Reagan says he wants a Rapid Deployment Force," the Marine Corps general says. "And the Marines are the only ones who can do the job." c
"You stay out of this," the admiral warns. "We'll give you what's left over, once we build our missile cruiser ships."
The Air Force general says to the Army general, "Don't ever push me again or we'll bomb Fort Bragg back to the Stone Age."
"Oh yeah?" the Army general says. "How would you like to see SAC headquarters filled with nerve gas?"
While the two are arguing, the admiral is heaving bags of money behind a bush. The Air Force general and Army general start beating up on him. The admiral shouts to the Marine general for help, and the Marine says, "Not until you promise me enough for 1,000 helicopters."
The Brink's guards separates the officers. The admiral, dusting himself off, says, "That does it. We attack Langley Air Force Base tomorrow morning."
"Listen," the Brink's guard says, "if you guys don't want the money, I know a lot of people in the government who do."
By this time, someone has notified Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, who rushes down.
"What's going on?" he asks angrily.
"Did you promise the Air Force this money for an MX system and a new bomber?"
"Yes, I did," Weinberger says.
"And did you give me your solemn word it would go for new aircraft carriers and submarines?" the admiral asks.
"And didn't you swear," the Army general says, "that we would get the bulk of the new appropriations to modernize our equipment?"
"I recall saying that."
"So which service gets the money?"
"None of you," Weinberger replies. "I just got a call from Al Haig and he says the $8 billion has to go for military equipment we're giving to El Salvador."