EYNON, PA— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today toured a local tank manufacturer to support the continued production of Abrams tanks and warn against the U.S. Army’s plans to halt production at the plant. During his tour of General Dynamics Land Systems, Senator Casey met with local residents whose jobs would be threatened if production at the plant ceased.
“Suspending production of the Abrams tank would not be in the best interest of our national security, industrial base or local economy,” said Senator Casey. “The specialized workforce that manufactures the Abrams tank here in Eynon would require extensive investment in retraining and the Army’s supply of this essential piece of equipment would be threatened if production is shut down.”
Senator Casey has written a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) urging the committee to reconsider plans to halt production of the tanks.
“I am concerned that this proposal will deny our Army the equipment necessary to prepare for and win our nation’s wars,” Senator Casey wrote in his letter. “Additionally, ceasing procurement of the Abrams tank is not in the best interests of the taxpayer and will significantly impact a key segment of our industrial base at a time when our economy is in recovery.”
Senator Casey met today with General Dynamics representatives and United Auto Workers Local 1193 President Ken Klinkel to tour the facility and see firsthand the specialized work that goes in to tank production. The plant currently employs about 250 people, and the majority of the work at the plant is connected to the production of the Abrams tank.
Senator Casey’s letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee is below:
Dear Chairman Levin:
I write today to express my strong concerns about the Army’s plan to temporarily cease M1A2 Abrams tank production. This move has the potential to diminish our ground capability, weaken our industrial base, and result in unacceptable job losses. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my views.
With the cancellation of the Army’s Future Combat Systems, the Abrams tank will continue to be the nation’s ground combat vehicle for the next several decades. Despite its key place in our military’s arsenal, the Army plans to cease procurement until at least 2017. The Abrams tank has proven its capabilities during several wars as the premier ground combat vehicle. I am concerned that this proposal will deny our Army the equipment necessary to prepare for and win our nation’s wars.
Additionally, ceasing procurement of the Abrams tank is not in the best interests of the taxpayer and will significantly impact a key segment of our industrial base at a time when our economy is in recovery. Dismantling this industrial base will increase the cost of any future platform procurement and delay the time in meeting new requirements. The termination of the Future Combat Systems and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle has already caused many manufacturing hardships. An additional halt of the Abrams tank production and enhancements will only further exacerbate their situation.
Finally, given the condition of our nation’s economy, now is not the time to halt production of a proven platform. If production is halted, the specialized workforce that manufactures this tank will not be able to reconstitute itself without substantial investment, retraining and time. Moreover, any interruption in the Abrams program would negatively impact many communities and families in several states and result in $3.4 billion in lost income. More than 560 subcontractors work on the Abrams program, the majority of which are small businesses that employ 18,000 Americans. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, businesses would lose $28 million in revenue – much of which goes to small and medium-sized specialty manufacturers.
I 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 consider the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, I respectfully request you authorize funding for 70 Abrams tanks in support of essential national security concerns.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator