After Casey Effort, Production of Abrams Tanks to Continue

Continued Production a Win for National Security, Jobs in PA -- Over 40 PA Businesses Contribute to Tank Production

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that critical resources have been secured for the Abrams tank programs in the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations bill, a move that Senator Casey fought for to keep our military strong and support over 40 businesses in Pennsylvania. 

“Production of the Abrams tank in Pennsylvania contributes to our national security, industrial base and supports jobs throughout the state,” said Senator Casey. “I will continue to fight to sustain production of the tank so Pennsylvania’s skilled workforce can continue to produce this combat vehicle, which is essential to the safety of our troops.”

The bill, which was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, includes $129 million for the modernization of the Abrams tank as well as $165 million for upgrades. The funding levels will help ensure that the more than 40 Pennsylvania businesses involved in the production of the tank do not lose out on work.

Senator Casey sent a letter to the armed services committee in April making the case for continued production of the tank in the face of a possible cutback or halt of the program.

A regional breakdown of Pennsylvania companies that aid in the production of the Abrams tank is below, followed by the letter Senator Casey sent to the Armed Services Committee:

Region # of Businesses
Northwest 3
North Central 1
Northeast 6
Lehigh Valley 2
Southeast 21
Southwest 9
South Central 3
Total: 44

 

The Honorable Carl Levin

Chairman

Senate Armed Services Committee

The Honorable John McCain

Ranking Member

Senate Armed Services Committee

Dear Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain:

As you begin deliberating the FY’2013 National Defense Authorization Act, we wanted to bring to your attention our strong concerns regarding the U.S. Army’s plan to end the M1A2 Abrams tank production, which places in jeopardy the nation’s armored combat vehicle industrial base and our national security.

Last year, alarm bells sounded following the release of the FY’2012 budget proposal in which the Army failed to request funding for the M1A2 Abrams Tank.  At that time, the Army wanted to temporarily cease procurement and modernization of the tank until 2017.  Congress wisely understood the national security, fiscal, and productivity ramifications of this decision, and prudently restored funding.  Nevertheless, the Army’s proposal to cease procurement of the tank was again submitted for consideration in the FY’2013 defense budget.

We continue to be concerned that this proposal denies soldiers the equipment necessary to prepare for and win future conflicts. According to General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “capability is more important than size.”  With the Army planning to downsize by 80,000 soldiers, we must ensure that the total tank fleet across the Total Force – our Active Component and National Guard – have the most effective and survivable tanks in the world.

The Army believes that a temporary cessation of the program is more beneficial than hurtful in the short run. However, the Army also recognizes the hardship this action will place on the hundreds if large and small manufactures across the United States on who they depend for critical components.  In March 2012 congressional testimony, Secretary McHugh acknowledged that these “high-end” manufacturing jobs would be at stake.  This proposal will impact the industrial base to the point that the supplier base will wither, factories will close, and thousands of highly-skilled manufacturing jobs will be lost.  A substantial investment, retraining, and time would be necessary to restart this program and it is not clear whether the specialized workforce would return.  In fact, any interruption in the Abrams program would result in $3.4 billion in lost income for many communities throughout the nation.

We recognize the need to reduce federal spending and strongly support efforts to rein in our national debt.  However, continued production of the Abrams tank is necessary to maintain ground superiority in our military engagements and ensure that our industrial base is able to meet our national security needs.  As a nation we must maintain this capability with the support of our nation’s dedicated workforce.  As you move forward, we respectfully request that you provide funding for 33 M1A2 SEP Abrams tanks in FY’2013.

Sincerely,

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

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