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Tanks a Lot

Monday March 4th, 2013   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:31am PST   •  

imagesThe M-1 Abrams tank can pulverize a building at a distance of more than two miles and proved its worth in Iraq and Afghanistan. If one of these tanks is headed your way you might have a problem, but now the United States military has a problem with the tank beyond its reported unsuitability for counter-insurgency operations.

Major tank battles as in the 1990 Gulf War are now a rarity and more than 2,000 Abrams tanks sit idle at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, California. Yet some in Congress want to build 280 more M-1 Abrams tanks at $8 million each. Last year Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno said that the Army does not need the tanks and does not need to upgrade the ones it already has. Further, the Army will have even less use for the M-1 Abrams once it completes a force mix study. But Congress persists in pushing for new units.

The Center for Public Integrity report, The Army Tank That Could Not Be Stopped, noted that an Army proposal to stop work on the tank would save $3 billion. That proposal has been blocked by four key congressional committees that, since 2001, have received $5.3 million from General Dynamics, which manufactures the M-1. During a two-week period in September, 2012, members of the House Armed Services Committee got $30,500 from General Dynamics. The Center also reported that the Pentagon spends $3 billion in “a little more than a day.” As Everett Dirksen, said, we are talking real money here.

Taxpayers expect defense spending to enhance national security but spending more money on tanks the U.S. Army does not want or need does not serve that end. For all their sophistication and exemplary record of service, American tanks did not prevent terrorists operating out of caves in Afghanistan from inflicting major damage on the United States.

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March 2013