Defense spending bill includes funds for tanks the Army doesn’t want

An M1A1 Abrams, firing its US built M256 120 mm tank gun. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

The U.S. Army has repeatedly said that it does not want additional Abrams tanks, but once again the new defense spending bill includes funds for the equipment.

FOX News reported that $120 million has been appropriated in the budget for the tanks.  For three years running, the Army has introduced and reintroduced a plan that would suspend tank building and upgrades.  If ever accepted, it would be the first time such a move was adopted since World War II.

The Army has suggested that the production line be kept open through foreign sales but Congress has yet to accept their plan.  Last week, they once again won in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2015.

Todd Harrison, a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments analyst, said it was not uncommon for Congress to go against military recommendations on the budget.

“It’s just one example and it’s not unique to this year,” he said.  “In some cases, Congress is using its appropriate role of oversight.  In some cases, Congress can act out of purely parochial interests.”

The tank debate goes back to 2012 when Gen. Ray Odierno testified that “we don’t need the tanks.  Our tank fleet is two and a half years old on average now.  We’re in good shape and these are additional tanks that we don’t need.”

Even with Odierno’s argument, Congress voted for millions for the Abrams tanks.  At the time, he told the press that “if we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” than spending it on 70-ton tanks.

In a statement, Rep. Mike Turner said that Congress “recognizes the necessity of the Abrams tank to our national security and authorizes an additional $120 million for Abrams tank upgrades.  This provision keeps the production lines open in Lima, Ohio, and ensures that our skilled, technical workers are protected.”  However, he would not comment on why congress went against the Army’s recommendation to suspend tank production.

According to FOX News, the current Abrams upgrade program approved by Congress calls for improving gas mileage by decreasing idle times.  It also calls for improvements to the tank’s sights and sensors.

As the Army lets go of thousands of troops due to Department of Defense cut backs, there are sure to be several military members that can think of different uses for the money budgeted for the tanks.

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