Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), concerned over the U.S. Army's reliance on foreign military sales to sustain production of the M1A2 Abrams tank, sent a letter today to the Defense Department urging the agency not to leave the viability of the tank subject to the needs of foreign nations.
"Keeping the Abrams modernization and production program going is critical for our national security and military readiness," said Brown. "Relying on foreign military sales is a risky proposition that leaves our industrial base vulnerable to the demands of foreign countries. Ensuring adequate funding for the production of at least 70 tanks per year is fiscally responsible, keeps the local economy in Lima strong, and helps bolster our national security."
"I remain concerned that we as a nation are depending on foreign military sales (FMS) to sustain domestic tank production. It is my judgment and experience that this leaves too much to chance," the letter states. "We cannot afford to leave the fate of a uniquely skilled U.S. industrial base to the whims and economies of other nations. I ask for your continued support for additional U.S. funding to ensure the viability of the U.S. tank industrial base."
Brown has been a longtime champion of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC). Brown recently met with Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) to discuss funding for the JSMC in the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization bill, and in April 2012, sent him a letter urging preservation of the Abrams tank program. He also sent letters to U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and the Obama Administration in 2011 urging them to reject plans to end the M1A2 Abrams tank modernization program for Fiscal Year 2012, and met with workers and management at the JSMC in 2010.
A copy of the letter can be found below and can also be seen here.
The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1400
Dear Mr. Secretary:
Thank you for your May 11, 2012 response on behalf of the Secretary of Defense to my April 17, 2012, letter concerning the Army's plans for continued production of M1 Abrams series main battle tanks.
I appreciate your acknowledgment of the problem regarding the U.S. tank industrial base and the Joint Services Manufacturing Center as well as your assurance that the Army is not shutting down tank production.
Notwithstanding your assurances, I remain concerned that we as a nation are depending on foreign military sales (FMS) to sustain domestic tank production. It is my judgment and experience that this leaves too much to chance. It is my understanding that none of the pending FMS cases you refer to in your letter are under contract as of today and it is indeed a rare occurrence for a FMS case to be awarded on its original schedule.
Further, each FMS case is different in terms of tank configuration and thus some international sales do not support the totality of the U.S. tank industrial base. Given the lead time for U.S. production of the M1A2 tank, additional procurement funding is required in the U.S. defense budget near term to ensure continued production.
We cannot afford to leave the fate of a uniquely skilled U.S. industrial base to the whims and economies of other nations. I ask for your continued support for additional U.S. funding to ensure the viability of the U.S. tank industrial base. I look forward to continuing our work together.