Washington: While the Army may worry that its Ground Combat Vehicles may cost too much and get killed, you won’t hear any such concerns from one of Capitol Hill’s top defense lawmakers, Sen. Car Levin.
In an interview clearly intended to signal to his colleagues what’s what before they return here next week, Levin said in an interview with his hometown paper that nothing will be cut on the defense budget until foreign bases get whacked. The last thing to get cut will be the Pentagon’s research and development accounts, especially the new Ground Combat Vehicle, Levin told the Detroit Free Press. (Tip of the hat to Phil Ewing at DoDBuzz.)
Cuts will come first to U.S. bases abroad, said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. The last to be cut will be research and development of weapons and other equipment aimed at the post-Afghan war military. And R&D is one of the biggest items Michigan sells to the defense industry, especially with the Army’s key research and development arms located here.
“The focus is going to be on a new ground combat vehicle with new technologies on it, and that’s where our great strength is,” Levin said.
Of course, much of the work on the GCV will occur in Michigan, especially in the early stages. The Army’s main center for developing armored vehicles is near Detroit. As the Free Press story notes:
Both General Dynamics and BAE are expected to be major competitors for the contract to develop the next generation of vehicles. And even if neither company gets the contract, some of the subcontracting work almost certainly will come to local companies, Levin said.
“We’re going to have a couple of good competitors in that effort, and the parts suppliers will be involved as well,” Levin said.
So the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has clearly signaled to his colleagues on the congressional Super Committee that he expects they will spare GCV. And he has told them to whack foreign bases. Levin knows he has some friendly ears on the Super Committee, as the Free Press notes: “Michigan has two members on the Joint Selection Committee on Deficit Reduction, U.S. Reps. Dave Camp, R-Midland, and Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph.” The good news for Levin is that they can all be bipartisan and bicameral when it comes to GCV.
Of course, the larger question for the Army is, has it finally gotten the requirements right for GCV and can it execute the program. The service has a dismal record over the last 20 years of starting and then blowing many of its major modernization efforts. For the country, the larger question is, should we shut down foreign military bases before anything else is touched in the defense budget. It’s easy rhetoric and some European bases can certainly shrink or disappear. But it’s a big world and stationing troops forward sends many diplomatic and national security signals.