October 9th, 2012
09:51 PM ET

Army to Congress: Thanks, but no tanks

By Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston

HERLONG, California (CNN) - If you need an example of why it is hard to cut the budget in Washington look no further than this Army depot in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada range.

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.

That may seem like a lot of money, but it's a tiny sacrifice for a Defense Department that will cut $500 billion from its budget over the next decade and may be forced to cut a further $500 billion if a deficit cutting deal is not reached by Congress.

Why is this a big deal? For one, the U.S. hasn't stopped producing tanks since before World War II, according to lawmakers.

Plus, from its point of view the Army would prefer to decide what it needs and doesn't need to keep America strong while making tough economic cuts elsewhere.

"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?


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.

That's right. Lawmakers who frequently and loudly proclaim that presidents should listen to generals when it comes to battlefield decisions are refusing to take its own advice.

If the U.S. pauses tank production and refurbishment it will hurt the nation's industrial economy, lawmakers say.

"The combat vehicle industrial base is a unique asset that consists of hundreds of public and private facilities across the United States," the letter said. The outlook for selling Abrams tanks to other nations appears "stronger than prior years," the letter said. But those sales would be "inadequate to sustain the industrial base and in some cases uncertain. In light of this, modest and continued Abrams production for the Army is necessary to protect the industrial base."

Lima, Ohio, is a long way from this dusty tank parking lot. The tiny town in the northwestern part of the Buckeye State is where defense manufacturing heavyweight General Dynamics makes these 60-plus-ton behemoths.

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.

"General Dynamics is not the industrial base," Pease said. "It is small vendors."

But General Dynamics certainly has a stake in the battle of the tanks and is making sure its investment is protected, according to research done by The Center for Public Integrity, a journalism watchdog group.

What its reporters found was General Dynamics campaign contributions given to lawmakers at key times, such as around congressional hearings, on whether or not to build more tanks.

"We aren't saying there's vote buying" said Aaron Metha, one of the report's authors. "We are saying it's true in pretty much all aspects of politics - but especially the defense industry. It's almost impossible to separate out the money that is going into elections and the special interests. And what we found was the direct spike in the giving around certain important dates that were tied to votes."

Pease said General Dynamics is bipartisan in its giving and there is nothing suspicious in the timing of its donations to members of the House and Senate. The giving is tied to when fundraisers are held in Washington - which is also when Congress is in session, he said.

Lawmakers that CNN interviewed denied that donations influenced their decisions to keep the tanks rolling.

Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California and chairman of the House armed services committee, said he didn't know General Dynamics had given him $56,000 in campaign contributions since 2009 until CNN asked him about it.

"You know, the Army has a job to do and we have a job to do," McKeon said. "And they have tough choices because they've been having their budget cut."

McKeon said he's thinking about the long range view. "... If someone could guarantee us that we'll never need tanks in the future, that would be good. I don't see that guarantee."

Similarly, his Democratic counterpart on the committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, who has received $64,000 from General Dynamics since 2001, said he is worried about the workforce if the Lima plant is closed for three years.

"Listen, we don't want to play Russian Roulette with the national security of this country," Reyes said.

Odierno explained to the committee that it would be cheaper to shut down the tank plant and then restart it in 2017. But his plea was ignored.

"Lima would cost us $2.8 billion just to keep that open and our tank fleet is in good shape and we don't need to because of the great support that we have gotten over the last two years," he told the committee.

But General Dynamics said it will cost a lot less to keep the plant open. Pease said the Army hasn't factored in the huge costs of closing the plant and the potential loss of skilled workers who will be needed come 2017 when the Army plans to remodel the Abrams tank.

"It's not whether they need those tanks, it's how much it costs to restart it," said Pease. General Dynamics, he said, will survive with or without refurbishing tanks over the next three years.

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. That begs another question: who will likely get the money for the 70 or so tanks covered by that contract when it goes out for bid?

"General Dynamics would probably get the contract for it anyway because they are kind of the ones that are out there leading the way on this," said McKeon.

The Army tank battle sends an unsettling message to the Defense Department, says Sharp, with the defense think tank. But it's a message that may not surprise a public weary from decades of battles and horse-trading that have defined Capitol Hill.

"The fact that the military is having such a hard time getting this relatively small amount of money to be saved, I think is an indication of the huge uphill fight that the military faces when it comes to Congress," Sharp said. "Congress is going to fight tooth and nail to protect defense investments that benefit their constituents and the people that live in their states."

Maybe the next time the generals go up to the Hill, they should take a cue from the well-protected tanks parked in California. Perhaps they might consider wearing body armor.

CNN's Sara Anwar contributed to this report.

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  12. CARLOS

    I like the Abrams tank, but also I think it is an expensive and flawed piece of machinery. Well, it's proven in battle, but it does have its issues, like weight and fuel inefficiency. Not voting it as a top tank in this list, but if they solve the fuel guzzling issues, that will be one flaw fixed.

    June 13, 2014 at 5:52 am | Reply
    • Nobody

      "The combat vehicle industrial base is a unique asset that consists of hundreds of public and private facilities across the United States," the letter said. The outlook for selling Abrams tanks to other nations appears "stronger than prior years," the letter said. But those sales would be "inadequate to sustain the industrial base and in some cases uncertain. In light of this, modest and continued Abrams production for the Army is necessary to protect the industrial base."

      The above Statement by the Congressmen is inarguably true.. The skills those technicians and specialists possess are required to produce a modern tank. They cannot be quickly replicated should the need arise..

      The reason replied to you is because the Aussies solved many M1 Problems by purchasing M1s using a piston powered diesal as opposed to the turbine..Little was lost in terms of general usages.. Top Speed and acelleration being the two most notable.. When tanks must manuver over the most difficult terrain climbing etc they are always vulnerable to attack and the loss of Power would only come into effect if there was no Combined Arms Operation taking place to protect them until they could get back to flatter and or more open terrain..

      The M1 Biggest Flaw is Complexity and it is not particularly well suited to Urban Combat due to the limitation of types of main gun Ammunition and the inability to fire the main gun in close proximity to friendly troops unless provisions are made to protect their hearing... (the 120 mm Gun is an Instant Off Button to those lacking protective hearing gear within close distances . It would make a great deal of sense to build up a large contingent of Diesel Powered 105mm Gunned M1s using the classified Chobam Armor Package and that could be done with these "Excess Tanks" reverting where possible to more robust less electronically sophisticated fire control systems along with the Engine change would reduce costs of repairs as well...while both would provide a better suited package for insurgencies like Afghanistan where US Tanks have not been put to use as they should have been really due to the costs of operation.

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  17. NYC Fitness Event

    Wrong ! That may seem like a lot of money, but it's a tiny sacrifice for a Defense Department that will cut $500 billion from its budget over the next decade and may be forced to cut a further $500 billion if a deficit cutting deal is not reached by Congress. Big problem! Every country is getting ready for war expect the United States. Build them and always be ready!

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  33. cleel

    I'm a former army tanker from the time when the Army Armor School was at Fort Knox. For the new types of wars we will be fighting, we need specialized light and medium tanks more than ever. As an M1/M1A1 tanker, we understood that at the end of the Cold War we needed something other than MBTs (Main Battle Tanks). The M551 Sheridan was a low intensity conflict, air transportable, amphibious, vehicle that was to fire both, a tank round and an anti-armor missile. It was ahead of its time in concept and technology was limited at the time. With the technology we have today, we could make a M551 Sheridan type of vehicle today. Even with off the shelf technology of now. I know that everyone thinks we need to come up with "new" everything, but we don't. A new vehicle body with the Javelin missile as the main armament. It should be able to fire an anti-structure round out of the missile launch tube. A .50 caliber mounted coaxial to the right of the main missile tube. A 40mm automatic grenade launcher mounted coaxial to the left of the main missile tube. All three weapons would be stabilized and share a laser range finder. The vehicle would have a 7.62 remote weapon station on the roof and a double roof. It needs a V shaped double bottom hull for IEDs. A periscopic, telescopic FLIR systm should be mounted on the vehicle as well. I won't get into other details, but as we tankers have said before, don't let corporate people make city tanks, let tankers make city tanks.

    February 7, 2013 at 11:11 am | Reply
  34. Old Salt

    It would be cheaper to pay those workers not to come to work for a couple of years, until a new tank is developed. The money saved would be in materials not needed to not produce more tanks.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Reply
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      February 7, 2013 at 7:15 am | Reply
  35. Rick Grimes

    1. The U. S. stopped production of the M1 tank in the nineties. These tanks are being stored in the desert because we no longer have a 2nd and 3rd armored division or 8th or 24th mechanized infantry division. Plus the 2ACR turned in their tanks and are now a light cavalry regiment.
    2. Tanks like most equipment and vehicles wear out and need to be refurbished.
    3. We should try to find a friendly country (like Republic of China or Australia) to buy some of these tanks and use that funding to keep the refurbishing plant running until the Army needs to replace units in the existing inventory.
    4. And yes you still need boots on the ground. That is why Iraq turned into the mess it did. Not enough soldiers. That is why the surge was needed.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:17 am | Reply
    • Old Salt

      Not enough boots on the ground in Iraq? Really? How about TOO MANY boots on the ground? There was never a legitimate justification for invading Iraq in the first place. Bush knew they didn't have WMDs, but lied to Congress and the public to justify the invasion. How can anyone now claim there weren't enough boots on the ground? I'm sorry, but that's nonsense. It also neither justifies nor explains why Congress needs to stuff MORE excess tanks down the Army's throat. It would be cheaper to convert that assembly line to make other vehicles the Army COULD use.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • Dave Emme

      We drive the heck out of every vehicle in our inventory. To take this viewpoint seems a bit contrarian in how the US Armed forces work. There is always two things that sets us apart from other countries-we train, we will train again, and continue to train-that alone is enough to say PMCS is really important would be an understatement.I was actually in that unit as a tank Battalion in Ft Lewis. After the gulf war is when they came back and reflagged as 1st BDE, 25 ID in Ft Lewis. Got there, right aty the endn and started doing transformation to a Stryjker BDE(second one) and upon return home-reflagged and sen tback to Germany.

      January 12, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  36. rebel_childe

    These are for domestic use.

    October 17, 2012 at 8:50 am | Reply
  37. sam

    Get your facts together cnn the us has not produced a tank since the 1980's ever since then tanks were reset saving billions of dollars by not producing tanks but by recycling older models. and the m1a1 has ended more conflicts with out firing a shot so your comie asses can produce the "news" reserch your facts.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Reply
    • Dorian

      Hey Sam, why so upset at CNN. What I got from the story is a highly decorated Army official came before congress to plea for a temporary stoppage of refurbishing out of date tanks. The key word being refurbish. Also, General Odinero just requested a five year hold, not total stoppage.

      October 12, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
      • sam

        read the article below how the storage of these tanks is a huge waste of money. They also speak about were the facility that holds these are and how many vehicles this should have been a security breach cnn talks out their ass the whole time thats why i am mad

        October 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Martin

      I copy pasted this from another site (reddit) but I am interested in what you think about this?

      In 2011, General Dynamics (the company that makes the M1 Abrams) has spent $11,443,603 on lobbying. For comparison, in 1998 they spent $4,068,417.

      General Dynamics is the third biggest US Government contractor. In 2011, they contracted $19.47 billion, and made a total of $32.67 billion in revenue. So far, in 2012, they have contracted $8.79 billion.

      In 2011, for every dollar General Dynamics spent on lobbying they made $1701.38.

      October 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • Old Salt

      Sam, I'm sure you're correct. It does, however, make me wonder why both the Army and the Congress both think we're still making them. Maybe you should let them know.

      December 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  38. karek40

    I think the correct term is corporate welfare and the difference between corporate welfare and walfare to citizens is the corporate CEO still gets his multimillion dollar salary and stock options and he and his family don't believe they are receiving welfare.

    October 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  39. pozin

    The military industrial complex owns the Congress. So even though our own military says we do not need any more tanks I will bet my house that Congress will fund the building of more tanks. I am truly embarrassed by our Congressional people. They see the fiscal cliff coming but they only press harder on the accelerator.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  40. Amniculi

    It's definitely time for Congressional term limits.

    October 11, 2012 at 9:58 am | Reply
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    • Bill

      Term limits wouldn't matter. The out-going representative would still apply pressure to the DoD to buy these tanks because they want the guy to be from the same party. If one of the major employers in your district has a DoD contract, neither of the candidates from either party would voice support for the idea of canceling that contract. That means more unemployment.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • Drake

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      October 17, 2012 at 9:18 am | Reply
  41. kingfisher552

    Eisenhower's original speech was about the "Congressional-military-industrial complex". And it's so true. Too many Congress-folk have been there too long, and the dollars in their accounts become more important than the welfare of the country.

    October 11, 2012 at 6:26 am | Reply
    • Rovanton

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  42. Dan

    You gotta admit, it's pretty epic seeing all those tanks parked in the desert. The ultimate used car lot.

    The Army should offer "drive a tank for 30 minutes" for $200 (after a background check). Great way to get thousands of Americans proficient in armored vehicle driving.

    October 11, 2012 at 12:12 am | Reply
    • devon

      sounds very fun!

      October 11, 2012 at 9:58 am | Reply
      • Justin

        Haha charge $200... It should be free. We are the ones paying for them in the first place.

        October 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • L

      Good idea! Tanks are also dirt cheap when compared to how expensive it's gonna be to keep all these baby boomers on social security. But we all know what CNN's agenda is.

      October 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  43. Tiffany

    How many democrats support this vs Republicans.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Reply
    • It's both parties

      It's fairly equal across the board. One Democrate and one Republican from each interested state signed the House letter. Both Democrates and Republicans in the Senate support it. MS NBC reported on this issue, which was originally published by a military news publication. I can't remember the date, but that story identified the Congress members that received donations from General Dynamics and identified by name who supported the tank buys, both Democrates and Republicans. CNN, unfortunately, only showed republicans in the video. It's about jobs to both parties in both the House and the Senate.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • It's both parties

      Here's the article. http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/28/12991946-the-m1-abrams-the-army-tank-that-could-not-be-stopped?lite

      October 11, 2012 at 11:20 am | Reply
  44. Bills Cat

    Eisenhower warned about letting the war machine take over the economy, and they have - lock, stock and barrel. There's a DoD contractor in every state, including Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa. Follow the money behind several layers of corporations and there are the people who really want the US at war, 24/7 and 365. Time for a remake of the French Revolution - "Ze guillotine, she does not care about your friends in ze Congress! Blindfold or no, m'suer?"

    October 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  45. Shug

    Ohio native here. I talked to a friend who actually works at the Lima plant, who said - "It was a bit off on the facts. For instance, the 2,000 tanks they talked about are actually junked tanks that are being stripped for parts. The majority of the upcoming sales at the plant are for foreign military and they are only making 1 tank per week for the US in order to keep the facility and their suppliers "warm" in case they would need to ramp up production (i.e. war) to protect us." So there's that info, Internets.

    October 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Thanks for the true out look here!

      October 10, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Reply
    • One tank per week

      this is even more expensive than envisioned.
      so three billion dollars just to roll out one tank per week for three years (52 x 3).

      November 20, 2012 at 7:31 am | Reply
  46. Rudyard Parrotio

    All in favor of this kind of spending are those who stand to gain directly from it. Many of them are the same people who cry and wail on about other kinds of govt wealth redistribution schemes. CNN do some real work and post all the names of these yes voters.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  47. John Deatherage

    A clear example why we need term limits in Congress and a line item veto for the President.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  48. MsRowdyRedhead

    I strongly suggest we take those tanks and line them up along the southern border, side to side, pointing south!
    THAT I wouldn't mind paying for.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Reply
    • Shazooooo

      Will you pay for all of it? I'm not paying a penny. I have other things to worry about.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply
    • James

      Perfect! Great Idea. Line them up on the border, pointing south. I'll vote for that.

      October 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    • Steven

      I live here in Texas and correct me if I am wrong but you are implying we line tanks up at Mexico's border presumably to keep out illegals right? Well I have to ask you, are you going to come pick all these veggies? Maybe you'll come mow my yard for 15 bucks. Now dont get me wrong, I have seen the food stamp lines and the people in front of me trying to pay with those lonestar cards and get WIC. But is a little cheap milk really too much for them to ask for considering all the cheap ass back breaking labor these people do for us?

      October 11, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
      • sundara

        Is it to much to ask for that maybe you pay a little more to get your grass cut and hire an out of work LEGAL american? Is it to much to ask that maybe the state welfare department work out a deal with famers to hire people already on welfare as a requirement for getting pulic assistance? Your willing to let taxpayers foot the bill on supplying said cheap milk but not willing to pay more for the serices you want done. If you believe so strongly in allowing illegals to stay then but your money where your mouth is and pay them more.

        October 11, 2012 at 6:49 am |
      • Richard

        ship all their asses back no matter who they are or how old they are breaking the law and should be punished

        October 11, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • David

      Ms.RowdyRedhead... you seem to be forgetting that a disproportionate number of our Soldiers are Black or Latino. I don't think you'd like where they'd point the tank, given a choice including a rabid racist such as yourself.

      October 11, 2012 at 10:00 am | Reply
      • Ron Wade

        David, the redhead's comment may be hyperbolic but it's not racist. The point was keeping ILLEGALS out...not keeping a particular race out. Play the race card much? Sign of a weak mind.

        October 11, 2012 at 11:43 am |
      • YGBSM

        David. Why is it those people who play the race card so often have little factual basis for their claims? The US Army is 62% white, 20% black, 11% hispanic, 4% asian, and 3% other (as self-identified by each soldier). That doesn't sound disproportionally black or latino to me.

        October 16, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  49. kenneth ware

    This is another example of Congress doing what is best for their campaing comtributions versus what is good for the American tax payer and he country. CNN should post a list of all the politicians that signed the letter to let the voters know who they are. I believe the General knows more about how to equip the military then Congress.

    October 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Reply
    • Bill

      Do you even have the faintest notion of how politics work in the US? Publically publishing a list of which politicians signed that letter would be the best favor anyone can do for them. The politicians who signed it can say to the voters in their districts, "See, I'm fighting to protect your jobs." They win in a landslide.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Reply
      • RL

        Ridiculous statement..That would only work on people strupid enough to believe that. "Working to save my job?" are the majority of Americans employed in strategic defense? So what the heck are you talking about?

        October 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  50. Dom

    Just like the billions of unwanted Susan B. Anthony dollars sitting in warehouses because nobody uses them, only a little bit bigger. I think the Soviets had the same system to keep workers employed.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Reply
    • Vlad "The Impaler" Putin

      Da. Ve kept tousands of comrades vorking in our faktories night and day. And as ve rolled them out ov da faktory, ve vould yust drife dem over to anoter varehouse and melt them down into scrap vich vould be sent to mill to make more steel for more tanks.

      Ha ha ha! And trink lots ov Wodka, too! But be careful. You trink too much Wodka and you womit!

      October 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Reply
  51. RL

    Heh CNN, instead of writing an article, run an expose on it during prime time hours and post all the names of the Dempublicans that continue to vote for it. Too scared? Thought so..

    October 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  52. Michael Ditton from Momtana

    I am a former Army tanker, Lieutenant, Co. B, 4th Bn., 64th Armor, 3ID. 2,000 additional tanks is roughly equivalent to six new Armor Divisions. Is Congress authorizing the manpower for those new divisions? No. So the "refurbished" tanks return to the used car parking lot in Nevada Maybe Congress will direct the Army to hold a fire sale next.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Reply
    • Sgt Rock

      Yeah. Round up all those tanks and fire shells at congress. Maybe if they see some action they'll stop wasting so much damn money.

      October 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  53. StanCalif

    Okay then, how many battleships have we found a need for after they were no longer "wanted"? Did we maintain a battleship building program just to keep the skills from disappearing?
    Battle tanks are just like battleships, no longer have a purpose. Why is the Army even working on a new design? We could build 2,000 new models and park them in the desert – just to keep the skills from disappearing!!!

    October 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  54. clubschadenfreude

    and this will only get worse if Romney gets in as president. The continued ignoring of the actual generals and soldiers, with only concern with pushing pork to corporations. This is yet one more time when Romney and the GOP can be seen for the liars they are, with their claims of being so concerned for the military but who have no idea what they hell they are doing.

    October 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
    • NCO20yYrPlusRetired

      Grow a brain outside a political party. The President is not among the committee members who are writing the defense mandate at the individual item level. Go back and study your government class.
      The sad part is that you political partisans will also ignore the Army then blame them when the budget offends the general taxpayers outside their districts.
      Nearly every career soldier is tired of the political interference with internal matters of the military. Shouyld they direct our combat too? They can send and recall but when it comes to how we do our own business, short of criminal transgressions, they should keep their "money votes" in Washington and stop blaming those of us with our lives on the line.

      October 11, 2012 at 12:50 am | Reply
      • clubschadenfreude

        For someone who thinks they can educate me on how gov't works, you seem to be unable to realize that I am talking about all republicans, including those on your committees. Romney is only the leader of that party and who claims he will vastly increase the military, of course with no way to pay for it or with any concern about what is really needed (how about higher pay for soldiers rather than more toys that are only pork?). My father served in the Army, as did my husband and my brother served in the Marines. So, keep your ignorant assumptions of who I ignore to yourself. As for who should direct combat, hmmmm, it seems that the GOP is all about that too, claiming to be going to allow the troops on the ground make the decisions and then as soon as they don't like them, trying to make the decisions themselves. Try again NCO, with your convenient hypocrisy.

        October 11, 2012 at 9:13 am |
      • YGBSM

        clubschadenfreude...Romney is not the leader of the GOP. Romney has not said he wants to vastly increase the military....ever. His platform is to keep the military spending at its current levels minus the wars. Congress has bought airplanes, tanks, and battleships that the military didn't want for many years. Read up on the C-17–democrats from WA (home of Boeing) fought to keep that assembly line open when the Air Force had enough C-17s. Read up on the C-130 too. The problem for the military is that congress says to cut the budget, but won't allow any weapon systems to be cancelled or any bases to be closed. That leaves personnel costs as the only high-dollar program that can be cut. All services have been cutting people to save money. Arguing that somebody in your family served in the military, and therefore you are educated about this, isn't going to make you any points when your "facts" are contrived and purely party-driven.

        October 16, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  55. Dr. Meat

    What we need is a new war. Then we can justify manufacturing as many tanks as we want. The war profiteers need to eat to, you know.

    October 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
    • Dr. Meat


      October 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
    • Korkee

      The government is trying to build up for something, the defense department has been stockpiling armor piercing ammo as well. If Romney gets into office we will be at war within 2 years I promise.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Reply
      • MsRowdyRedhead

        Obama has us on the brink of war right now... have you been alseep?? Or did you think they brought flowers when they killed Chris and burned down our embassy???

        October 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
      • Steven

        Ms. Terribly slow in the Redhead,
        Where exactly do you get your info? You do know that was a riot which took place over the release of a movie. So are you saying it was Obama's movie? Maybe he produced it? Or was he the star? I see you know how to type, I will assume then you can also read, perhaps you should do so and read up a bit on history and current affairs.

        October 11, 2012 at 12:54 am |
      • Jose

        @Steven who is even slower in the head. Where exactly do you get your info? You do know the whole riot over a movie is a big lie. You do know it was a cover up. Heck even CNN is reporting that now. I see you know how to type, I will assume then you can also read, perhaps you should do so and read up a bit on history and current affairs.

        October 11, 2012 at 9:18 am |
      • Ron Wade

        Steven: what Jose said. Your heroes in the Obama administration lied to you for the past couple of weeks.

        October 11, 2012 at 11:46 am |
      • cccombs

        we have been at war since 9/11 and it is never gonna change. so hey let them stockpile the tanks. please do not forget the airforce Boneyard in Arizona too. Gotta have warthog and B-52 parts

        October 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Kevin Hendrickson

      A new war is coming no matter who is president, was coming the minute we left Iraq. The crisis in Syria has quickened it and there is no escape. we need to abandon Isreal, NATO and the UN. Bring the military home and dig in its only a few years away at best.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  56. sunsetme

    Three billion dollars is a lot of money and should be saved. The plant should be used to make high-speed trains instead of army tanks we don't need. Why would we be talking about cutting PBS which amounts to 6 hours of Pentagon spending and continue to spend $3 billion for something we don't need. No wonder we cannot get out of debt. Congress, we're tired of your taking bribery money from General Dynamics!!

    October 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • Dan

      If we're going to spend $3,000,000,000 on something that the government is forcing through it might as well be something that someone can actually use. I agree with the high speed train, it's like someone saying you have to choose one, we take 30% of your salary and give you nothing or we take 30% of your salary and do something to make your life nicer, jee hard decision if those are my only two options. I vote high speed train in this case all day long.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
      • Kevin Hendrickson

        yea because AMTRAK isnt costing the US Government enough? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

        October 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Marilyn

      That's a good idea.

      October 11, 2012 at 3:35 am | Reply
    • Ron Wade

      A factory and supplier base that's tooled up to make tanks isn't going to magically be able to make trains, brainiacs. And did you all miss the part about the costs and risks associated with shutting it down for four or five years and then starting it back up?

      October 11, 2012 at 11:50 am | Reply
      • Coflyboy

        so then how come we were able to re-tool from a peace-based economy before World War II? We did that in a coupla months. General Dynamics is a company VERY capable of switching to building trains, or anything else beneficial to mankind. All we have to do is ask them to do so, give them a business reason (money) to do so, and they will have retooled lickety-split. Anything else is a BS excuse.

        October 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  57. Marsha Baker

    Thanks for the great report. Please post a list of the members of Congress who voted against the Army's recommendation – I'll bet they're the same folks who always vote for more military spending saying "we've got to follow the lead of the generals on the ground". I think it might be really interesting to compare the list to votes on other spending/cutting legislation. For example, for GenDyn but against extending unemployment insurance. For GenDyn and also for cuts in social programs. The possibilities are staggering. Please get this out so that those of us who support campaign finance reform can add this to our ammunition. Pun intended.

    October 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Reply
    • Edward Fierstos

      I'd really like to have the list of congress members who cannot say 'no', ever. Please, please, please print out the list so we can follow up with our own representatives. They need to hear from us NOW! Let's make sensible changes to help minimize the impact of some of the other, more painful cuts that likely are coming, no matter who wins this race.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
      • Kevin Hendrickson

        Stop voting for the fools who are not getting the job done. even if you dont blame YOUR congressman, blame him/her and fire him/her for not getting the job done. When enough have lost their job the message will be sent. The problem is its always someone elses guy.

        October 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Tanksabillions

      The first 6 signatures include two Reps from Michigan, 1 Democrate, 1 Republican; two Reps from Alabama, 1 Democrate, 1 Republican; two Reps from Ohio, 1 Democrat, 1 Republican. The letter is dated May 2011, which came before the Army's response so they didn't vote against the Army, they were concerned with the entire defense industrial base, not just tank. The way they signed the letter is a clear indication that it is bipartisan.

      October 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
    • Mike B

      You can check every vote of the US Congress @ govtrack.us check it out and follow the ingo

      October 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  58. Ted

    Lobbyists and congress doing what they do best.....Spend Money.

    October 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  59. Mike

    "If the U.S. pauses tank production and refurbishment it will hurt the nation's industrial economy, lawmakers say."
    So government spending can create jobs? Interesting how congress only applies this idea to defense spending..

    October 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
    • Debi Llorens

      This is not brain surgery, folks. It's arithmetic!! Cut spending money, unnecessarily, and balance the budget. Let's stop listening to special interests and use some old-fashioned common sense.

      October 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      It can, if spent correctly. What happens when the plant closes down (assuming GD doesn't adopt and fails instead of adopting successfully) and you now have 16,000 workers "That ... includes ancillary positions like gas station workers who fill up employees' cars coming and going to the plant," as well as the skilled laborers? Spend the savings retraining the recently unemployed while providing tax breaks to companies that employ similar production methods (car manufacturing, for example) to encourage economic growth in those industries. Not only are you cutting the defense budget, but you are also stimulating economic growth within the country while boosting exports.

      October 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        I know that government spending can create jobs, I was being somewhat facetious. I was just trying to show how certain legislators argue that government spending is incapable of creating jobs until that spending is on something that they care about and then all of a sudden government needs to keep spending in that area.

        October 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  60. Tiny

    Kevin....ask me how I knew where you worked. ("Oh and by the way I am a government worker"). Take another look at the figures and how small business takes a back seat to big business...i.e. small business is but a fraction of the work force? Yet another solid reason government must be cut....the most important requirement for employment is blind trust (and I mean blind), undeterred loyalty (regardless of the country's welfare)....oh, and being a minority helps.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • Kevin Hendrickson

      Great if you know where I work, your point? Small business will never supply more jobs than big business. Now would I love to see the down fall of Wal-Mart, McDonalds and Kraft foods? Sure it would be great for small businesses. Would I love to see the government stop wasting money? Absolutely! .

      Minority? Is that you excuse? Are you continuing to be oppressed? First off if you know where I work and had any idea why I do what I do, you wouldn’t even go there. Now I grew up on the streets in Brooklyn around the Avenues of Belmont and Rockaway and know what poor looks like and the struggles of small business. My undeterred loyalty comes from a society that lives with freedoms and opportunities. My undeterred loyalty comes from having left NY and the US and seeing what the world is really like. The streets of Brooklyn are safer than many of the places I have been and I doubt you really understand what real desperation is my “Minority” friend.

      October 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  61. Snackelfish

    Politicians decry cutting a couple billion here and there as "witch hunts". Say that program alone is $3 billion. All it takes is 100 similar program savings, across all cabinets, and you've got $300 billion in savings.It all adds up.

    Ban super PAC's and corporate contributions; toss out the electoral college. Force all campaigning to be done with public funds, from individuals.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  62. Kevin Hendrickson


    October 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  63. cacique

    There have to be more instances like this. The Pentagon loves the sound of heavy-sucking suction of the national teat. I hope more cuts of unnecessary expenditures are found and the waste eliminated.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Did you bother reading the article? The Pentagon is asking for the cuts. It's Congress that's doing the sucking here. (pun intended)

      October 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  64. netwrok

    That's what happens when lobbyists pay off politicians. The politicians start doing what's in the best interest for the lobbyist, instead of what's right for the country.

    Ban corporate lobbying! End political corruption!

    October 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      I agree re: banning the Lobbyist, but Obama said that was first on his list in 2008 so it must be so.

      October 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  65. Chris

    We have this going on but the main thing people are talking about right now is funding for public broadcast television. Disgusting.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  66. TC

    One wonders what would happen if we dramatically cut ALL military spending, down to what is necessary, and invested the difference in the crumbling and outdate infrastructure throughout this country. If the government is going to be using wealth distributions to support jobs, at least they should support jobs that anctally HELP build up this country.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • Kevin Hendrickson

      I would love to have a weak military in this country. I am tired of the privileged, ignorant, liberals who think freedom is free. Those who have had life handed to them and dont really understand the struggle of the rest of the world. While we are at it we can stop supporting Isreal, let the Arabs have at them. When gas prices rise and our money is worth nothing and our government is no better than the ones in South East Asia then and only then will they understand what they had here, when it is too late. Then the real struggle can begin again, we are lazy, compliant and for all our education dont understand that the majority of the world is not as educated, not as peaceful, and a return to that is where we are headed because of our ignorance.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
      • Morgan

        Looks like someone needs to actually read the article. We can have a strong military that is more cost efficient.

        October 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
      • heatherisalurve

        The United States spends more on their military than the next 17 highest spending countries COMBINED. We can cut a lot of military spending and still have the strongest military in the world.

        October 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
      • Kevin Hendrickson

        first off this was the reply to the comment above it. Now you cannot cut the military budget significantly through the useless spending like this because most of the budget is in Personnel! it is soldiers pay, health and benefits not fust for the thousands in service right now but the millions of retired and disabled their pentions and health. Additionally, one you cut the military spending the American public will have a rude awakinging on what it does to private sector jobs. I love the idea, lets do it! I am so tired of defending a country of growing ignorance and a misunderstanding of the world around them. I can live in the woods build a pot farm and chant love and peace til I'm found by what ever takes over afterwards then, it wont be nearly as good as it is now I promise that and our kids can thank us.

        October 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Locaber


      October 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • chris

      The true wonder is what happens if Federal spending is ever audited. What happens when corporate money is removed from election campaign and Citizens United is done away with. The hope was for corporate accountability, but no one needs to be accountable for anything when politicial tools can be purchased from the campaign trails. The approval rating of Congress is sickening, and they dont care.

      October 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply
      • Kevin Hendrickson

        Ha, how little Americans understand about economics US and Global. I won’t go too much into Global; let’s just say that it is in the world’s interest, in the short term(generally Democratic party members think this will last), to keep the US economy strong as the rest of the world values its money against ours for a reason.

        As far as US economics go, American GDP and revenues come not just from your income taxes but from sales taxes, import and export taxes. Government jobs such as teachers, police, military and infrastructure development are all paid for with this money. As unions of government workers ask for more pay, better retirement, and better health benefits who do you think pays for this? Do you think that a work force of government workers can generate enough revenue to pay for themselves? No it is the rich elite that create the revenue and the jobs. Small business helps but is still a small fraction of the total work force. It is this that Republicans say give big business the money and improve our economy. Instead we demonize the rich who have helped build this country and enact policies that have driven them to move themselves and their business out of the US. The gradual deterioration of our economy will eventually shift as to where another currency can be used as the global value and we will at that time be in ruin. It’s coming sooner than you think as the Great Depression has nothing on what is to come. Oh and by the way I am a government worker :/

        October 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
      • Evan Kolk

        So you're a government worker, Kevin? That's cool. But given the size of both our federal and various state governments, I have to wonder just exactly what it is that you do. The lady that gives you a blank stare at the DMV is just as much a government work as the statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, yet I would be less likely to heed her advice on economic matters. The fact of the matter is that in the situation that *this* article is talking about, the US Army is quite clearly stating that it doesn't need or want the money at this time. I would tend to trust the army when it comes to their opinion of what they *don't* need. This situation exists because private industry has co-opted public officials to the point that what is best for the country as a whole is a side note to what is good for a company's shareholders. There was a time when the business of America being business may have been a good thing, but you'll recall that the era of our greatest economic growth and growth in prosperity across the board was accompanied by strict regulation and high levels of taxation on the high end level of income. If the Rich elite are really the ones that give us prosperity, then why have average wages for workers stagnated since the 70s, but average wages for corporate leadership skyrocketed to obscene levels?

        October 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • Tanksabillions

        Federal spending, more specifically, defense spending isn't audited? Great! I'll tell that to the GAO and Army Audit Agency next time they call.

        October 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
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