There are only a few signs that Ray Mabus’ new office in the Pentagon belongs to him. A few pictures of his family sit on a table. A book featuring his photographs rests on the coffee table.
After nearly five weeks as secretary of the Navy, Mabus hasn’t quite settled in yet. Instead, the former Mississippi governor has toured a shipbuilding yard in Bath, Maine, visited Marines at boot camp in North Carolina and testified before three congressional committees about the Navy’s proposed budget.
“It is a great job. The thing that has impressed me the most about this is the people you get to work with, the skill level, the professionalism, the commitment,” Mabus said in his office, which is equipped with windows designed to ward off blasts. “The issues you get to deal with are important issues. They make a big difference in a lot of ways.”
As the Navy’s top civilian official, Mabus helps set policies for the Navy and Marines, and he oversees a department with a $125 billion budget and 900,000 workers. His job includes oversight of recruiting, training and mobilizing, and construction and repairs of Navy ships and facilities.
Mabus takes on his new job at a critical time, with the Navy and Marines fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He also faces other challenges, including increasing the size of the Navy fleet and repairing or replacing aging ships and equipment.
Meanwhile, he must work with a Congress burdened by budget woes.
Gannett News Service