Publication / DecodeDC/ Scripps
May 7, 2014
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The unwanted war machines Congress is forcing on the Pentagon

Budget battle looms over military spending

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama recently set goals to decrease America’s military might back to pre-World War II levels. To get there, the Pentagon is proposing $45 billion in cuts to the nation’s most well-funded department. Through proposed reductions to its fleet, aircraft and troops the Department of Defense seems prepared to finally cut some serious pork.

Congress however, isn’t always on board with this butchering project.

Usually when representatives or senators want to save programs that the generals want to extinguish, it’s because they’re trying to save jobs back home.

Sometimes they think they know better than the Pentagon or might have taken sides in intra-Pentagon battles. The result?

There are several situations where legislators are fighting to keep in production the archaic, cobweb-collecting machinery that the Pentagon says it no longer wants.

A preliminary vote on the National Defense Authorization Act is slated for Wednesday. Get ready for a 21st century Battle of the Bulge. Here are some big ticket items the Pentagon doesn’t want but can’t get rid of.

The M1 Abrams Tank.

Copyright Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images

Estimated cost saving: $7.5 million per tank.

The Abrams tank is the ultimate thorn in the Pentagon’s side. The Army is fed up with buying and upgrading cumbersome tanks that it says have no place in modern warfare. Last year the Pentagon tried to kill the tank but Congress instead allocated an extra $181 million to keep it in production.

Members representing the communities of York, Pennsylvania and Lima, Ohio—where tank manufacturers BAE and General Dynamics are located—are strongly against killing the Abrams and similarly outdated Bradley, saying it will cost hundreds of jobs. In March, the Pentagon announced it would receive $548 million dollars to modernize its tanks.

The A-10 Thunderbolt Jet

Copyright Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images

Estimated cost saving: $3.5 billion over the next five years.

The aircraft, known as the “Warthog,” was developed in the 1970s to provide close ground-air support to troops and was the darling of the first Gulf War. But as one publication put it: “it’s old, it’s slow, it’s ugly.

The Air Force wants to ground its fleet of A-10s and replace them with the F-35 fighter jet. Yet some members of Congress have opposed the decision. In April Sen. John McCain, a longtime critic of the F-35, joined the opposition asking “We are going to do away with the finest close-air-support weapon in history?”

The USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier

Copyright Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images

Estimated cost saving: $796 million

Secretary Hagel has warned the Navy that the fate of the USS George Washington is at stake if Congress doesn’t accept the Pentagon’s overall budget plan. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is over twenty years old and is slated for a burdensome overhaul and maintenance procedure.

It’s a cost the Pentagon says it simply can’t afford. However Rep. Randy Forbes, Chairman of the House Armed Services Sea Power Subcommitteehas vowed to keep the George Washington afloat. Forbes, a conservative Republican, is from Virginia, a state with heavy government contract and building licenses.

Amarra Ghani contributed to this post.