U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today urged Senate leaders to continue to support production of the Abrams Tank, which is built in Pennsylvania, protects our troops serving abroad and supports over 40 businesses in the state. A proposal to halt production of the tank would harm Pennsylvania's industrial base and our national security.
"Production of the Abrams tank in Pennsylvania contributes to our national security, industrial base and local economies throughout the state," said Senator Casey. "I've fought 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 and our national security efforts."
Built in Eynon, PA and supported by more than 40 suppliers across the state, 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, Senator Casey wrote in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The committee is deliberating the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
After an effort to end production of the tank last year, Senator Casey successfully pushed the committee to fund the continued production of the tank.
Senator Casey was joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and John Kerry (D-MA) in his letter to the Armed Services Committee. The Senators wrote that the Army's plan to temporarily halt the tank would ultimately cost more than maintaining production, and the skilled workforce that produces the tank would be at risk of being lost.
A regional breakdown of Pennsylvania companies that aid production of the Abrams tank is below, followed by the letter Senator Casey sent today to the Armed Services Committee:
Dear Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain:
The Honorable Carl Levin
Senate Armed Services Committee
The Honorable John McCain
Senate Armed Services Committee
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.
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)