11 October 2012

Congress wants to spend more money on tanks. The army doesn't want them.

Yet another example of how American politicians need some adult supervision.  Excerpts of a story at CNN:
CNN was allowed rare access to what amounts to a parking lot for more than 2,000 M-1 Abrams tanks. Here, about an hour's drive north of Reno, Nevada, the tanks have been collecting dust in the hot California desert because of a tiff between the Army and Congress.

The U.S. has more than enough combat tanks in the field to meet the nation's defense needs - so there's no sense in making repairs to these now, the Army's chief of staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told Congress earlier this year.

If the Pentagon holds off repairing, refurbishing or making new tanks for three years until new technologies are developed, the Army says it can save taxpayers as much as $3 billion...

"When a relatively conservative institution like the U.S. military, which doesn't like to take risks because risks get people killed, says it has enough tanks, I think generally civilians should be inclined to believe them," said Travis Sharp a fellow at the defense think tank, New American Security.

But guess which group of civilians isn't inclined to agree with the generals on this point? Congress. To be exact, 173 House members - Democrats and Republicans - sent a letter April 20 to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging him to continue supporting their decision to produce more tanks...

The tanks create 16,000 jobs and involve 882 suppliers, says Kendell Pease, the company's vice-president of government relations and communications. That job figure includes ancillary positions like gas station workers who fill up employees' cars coming and going to the plant.

Many of the suppliers for tank manufacturing are scattered around the country so the issue of stopping production or refurbishment becomes a parochial one: congressional representatives don't want to kill any jobs in their districts, especially as the economy struggles during an election year...

So how did Congress respond to Gen. Odeirno's request to shut down production until 2017? The answer came in the proposed congressional budget for next year. It includes $181 million for tanks the Army doesn't want or need now.
I am so sick and tired of reading (and blogging) stories like this.  It never ends.


  1. The military-industrial-congressional complex strikes again. Didn't Ike warn us about this? Couldn't we spend that money on the next manned space vehicle, the Space Launch System? Jobs all over the country, something useful that is desired by many... eventually, we gotta get off this rock.

  2. Actually Nathan, leave out the military part on this one. It's true that the Pentagon is trying to not spend money it doesn't want to spend. It's Congress that wants to make them spend it so the reps can go home and say "but we saved jobs!" I remember when I read a similar story in the USSR: they had factories building buses, then sending those buses to a different factory to strip off the bus part and put a tank around the chassis. Then they'd send the tank back to the first factory to convert it back to a bus. We Work the Black Seam Together. --A.

  3. The M1 is built in the ultimate swing state (Ohio) they'll probably shut it down immediately after the election. A friend of mind told me a worse story about the Army's newest and most modern artillery shell factor in Mississippi that was shut down because the Army had too many artillery shell factories and Mississippi's senators didn't have any clout.

  4. Don't be sick and tired of these stories. When you or readers hear about these things we all get headaches and indigestion which means what?... Jobs for people who make remedies and sell them, and of course vehicle manufacturers and gas station attendants so we can get to the store. And our computers get more wear on them leading to more jobs in the repair and sales departments for them. So don't stop writing or the economy may crash.

  5. What would make news like this better, is if newsmakers would actually identify these 173 moneywasting lawmakers. That way voters could take such insane positions in consideration when voting.

    In a newspaper, this is hard to do, but online, it should be easy to identify the lawmakers and their districts.

  6. Let's face it. Our little experiment is over.
    The smart kids, who always had the rules of Monopoly in their lap and coincidentally ran the bank, have figured out how to win and this simply isn't fun for the rest of us anymore.


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