Army Leaders Defend Plan to Shutdown M1 Tank Production |

Army Leaders Defend Plan to Shutdown M1 Tank Production |

The Army’s top two leaders defended the service’s strategy to cut spending before lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, including a plan to shutdown M1 tank production.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee applauded the Army’s proposed 2013 defense budget but expressed concern over how the plan’s deep cuts will affect the defense industrial base.

Texas Democratic Congressman Silvestre Reyes said he was worried about the future of the Army’s armored combat vehicle fleets since “the current plan, according to the budget submitted, calls for a total shutdown of the Abrams, Bradley and Stryker production lines for three to four years, which starts in 2014.”

Such a move could result in layoffs of experienced workers and damage industry’s ability to meet the Army’s needs in the event of an unforeseen conflict, Reyes said.

“That is a very real concern on behalf of industry, that the skilled workers aren’t going to be there after such a lengthy shutdown,” he said. “So after going cold for three or four years, how can we be sure that that capacity will be able to be regenerated?….

I’ve tried to bring out a similar point up in the “Artillery Evolutions” posts of late.  America entered World War I with the assumption that industrial might would “build” an army – just let the captains of industry know what is needed, and within a few months there will be plenty of guns for the expanded army.

Didn’t work out so well – embarrassingly low production numbers and an Army using guns made by foreign sources.

Lesson learned – if you want the ability to mass produce weapons for the next “great war,” the mix is one part good design and two parts production capacity.  Contrary to the popular myth, the automobile industry is not capable of switching from Chevy Volts to Abrams MBTs without substantial retooling and retraining.  During the Cold War, men who’d been around to see the “Arsenal of Democracy” in action were keen to throw a little money around here and there in order to maintain capacity.

If history is any guide, industry will need ten to twelve years to rehabilitate the skills and capabilities which will grow stale in the projected three to four years.  Who knows, maybe the next “great war” will wait.

8 thoughts on “Army Leaders Defend Plan to Shutdown M1 Tank Production |”

  1. “Industrial base” is the same thing as saying, “skilled workers”. If you took the Abrahms factory today and mothballed it, i.e., put a tent around it and preserved it perfectly and came back ten years later and said, “OK, we need to build tanks NOW, lets get to it!” you’d be screwed. Those skilled workers would be skilled at another job and extremely reluctant to come back and get screwed again. It’s the reason why Congress funded two addional Seawolfs even though the Navy had no use for them and fought against them: ElectricBoat told their Codel that the time between the last LA and the first Virginia was so far apart that that they wouldn’t be able to keep the skilled workforce together long enough to start the next class of subs. Not to pat my back, but ugly, loud, smelly, hard drinking (or once was) yard birds are a critical asset to the Navy and what with drawdowns and cut backs, a dying breed. Kids don’t want to do the hard dirty work we do anymore. So…who’s going to build and maintain your weapons of war with the fecal matter hits the rotary impeller next time?

  2. Those skilled workers would be skilled at another job and extremely reluctant to come back and get screwed again.

    Same thing is happening right now with the space industry. All the good contractors that were laid off have already found other jobs, and you don’t want the ones that have been sitting at home, waiting for the phone call to come back.

  3. What is happening is that we are slowly being forced into an isolationist stance. Many think Ron Paul wants that, but it’s actually the left that is pushing for it. I think the next war we fight will be lost, because we won’t have to the tools or the troops to fight it properly, and won’t have time, as we did in 41-44 to build the tools we need. We will come as we are, and win or lose, as we are.

  4. Geez, if I didn’t know better, I’d think we were making the same damn mistakes we did in 1991, 1946, 1919, etc., etc….

  5. Since the M-1 has been our main tank for 30 years, it’s probably time for a new one. Can’t we keep a certain number of Abrams coming off the line, so the people who make tanks will still be up to speed when the M-2 Sox , ( named after a famous killer ) start coming off the line will still be up to speed in tank making?

  6. Okay….who needs these tanks?

    We already have a surplus of M1s in the force structure. If there are upgrades needed it can be done at one of the existing AMC operated depots.

    So we build a bunch of tanks and M1s no one needs?

    That is dumb.

    And this is coming from a guy who has been in or worked for the Army since 1976.

Comments are closed.