Shit like this pisses me off... the Army should be the expert on their role in national defense and what equipment they need to perform in that role. They are screaming NO MORE TANKS! But the know-it-alls from Ohio, who claim to be budget hawks (except when it affects their disctricts/re-election) know more than the Army about what's good for national defense? So not only do we have to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars maintaining the tanks we HAVE, they want to spend 1/2-BILLION dollars on more.
And of course General Dynamics, who has a major stake in the production, spent 411 MILLION lobbying congress for this pork-ladened project.
Army says no to more tanks, but Congress insists
By RICHARD LARDNER
The Associated Press Tweet
Published: April 28, 2013
Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.
But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, "No thanks."
It's the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there's a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
"If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.
Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.
Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank's many suppliers are located.
If there's a home of the Abrams, it's politically important Ohio. The nation's only tank plant is in Lima. So it's no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol's Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.
"The one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country," said Jordan, whose district in the northwest part of the state includes the tank plant.
The Abrams dilemma underscores the challenge that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faces as he seeks to purge programs that the military considers unnecessary or too expensive in order to ensure there's enough money for essential operations, training and equipment.
Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, faces a daunting task in persuading members of Congress to eliminate or scale back projects favored by constituents.
Federal budgets are always peppered with money for pet projects. What sets the Abrams example apart is the certainty of the Army's position.
Sean Kennedy, director of research for the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste, said Congress should listen when one of the military services says no to more equipment.
"When an institution as risk averse as the Defense Department says they have enough tanks, we can probably believe them," Kennedy said.
Congressional backers of the Abrams upgrades view the vast network of companies, many of them small businesses, that manufacture the tanks' materials and parts as a critical asset that has to be preserved. The money, they say, is a modest investment that will keep important tooling and manufacturing skills from being lost if the Abrams line were to be shut down.
The Lima plant is a study in how federal dollars affect local communities, which in turn hold tight to the federal dollars. The facility is owned by the federal government but operated by the land systems division of General Dynamics, a major defense contractor that spent close to $11 million last year on lobbying, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Rest of the story: http://www.stripes.com/news/army/arm...sists-1.218663
Last edited by CrustySMSgt; 04-29-2013 at 05:16 AM.
"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep the street so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. "
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
Chief Runner Amok of the Troll Cabal
The California Guard in recent years slashed down our entire tank community down to a single company... it was the realization that they simply aren't needed in large numbers anymore.
This isn't about building more tanks, but up grading current models:
"The tanks that Congress is requiring the Army to buy aren't brand new. Earlier models are being outfitted with a sophisticated suite of electronics that gives the vehicles better microprocessors, color flat panel displays, a more capable communications system, and other improvements. The upgraded tanks cost about $7.5 million each, according to the Army."
There is also this argument:
"Pete Keating, a General Dynamics spokesman, said the money from Congress is allowing for a stable base of production for the Army, which receives about four tanks a month. With the line open, Lima also can fill international orders, bringing more work to Lima and preserving American jobs, he said.
Current foreign customers are Saudi Arabia, which is getting about five tanks a month, and Egypt, which is getting four. Each country pays all of their own costs. That's a "success story during a period of economic pain," Keating said.
When things go wrong in your command, start searching for the reason in increasingly larger concentric circles around your own desk.
-GEN Bruce C. Clarke
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