The Army is making a series of penny-wise and pound-foolish decisions to save money by gutting its industrial base. One such move is the ill-conceived proposal to shut its only tank plant for three years, and then reopen it when upgrades of the Abrams tank resume in 2017. But like other plans the service has crafted, closing the tank plant only saves money in the near term while running up the bill over the longer term because you can mothball equipment but you can’t mothball workers. Someday the service will have to reconstitute the plant’s skilled workforce and recertify its specialized supplier base, a process that is likely to prove horrendously expensive. It makes more sense to keep the plant open and buy enough additional tanks so that the active and reserve components of the force all have the latest versions. After all, at the rate the active-duty force is likely to shrink in the years ahead, it will need to rely on National Guard armored units to sustain rotations in any future war. I have written a commentary for Forbes that you can read here.
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