West Point facility plant gets $623M deal to assemble armored vehicles
The Associated Press
International Truck and Engine Corp. has won a $623 million contract to build 1,200 mine-resistant ambush-protected armored vehicles in West Point for the Marine Corps, members of the Mississippi congressional delegation announced Thursday.
The deal will mean 350 jobs to the plant, which is a joint venture with Griffin Armament.
International is part of Navistar International of Warrenville, Ill.
U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said Thursday that the contract specifies delivery of the vehicles to the Marine Corps by February 2008.
The vehicles are designed to provide better protection against mines and incendiary explosive devices, which have caused the greatest number of casualties for U.S. troops in Iraq, Wicker said in a statement.
"International Truck has a proven record of building and delivering armored vehicles to protect American service personnel," Wicker said. "This contract reflects the confidence the Marine Corps has in International's expertise. It is also good news for West Point, where International employees will have a hand in providing the safest and most dependable armored vehicles in the world." U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, both R-Miss., joined in making the announcement.
The truck chassis will be built at the company's Garland, Texas, plant and then transferred to the military integration facility in West Point for final assembly. International has already delivered more than 4,000 military vehicles over the past several years. An armored heavy haul tractor produced in West Point went to Iraq last year, and another vehicle is in service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
International also builds vehicles for U.S. allies, including Israel.
"I've worked with the Marine Corps to ensure this competition was a fair one which gave West Point's work force an opportunity to participate in this very important contract," Lott said. "Yet, more important than any economic impact, this contract will provide our troops with a vehicle that better resists the deadly explosive devices so often used by America's terrorist foes." Cochran said: This contract will help protect U.S. troops as well as provide our work force at home with good job opportunities." West Point has lost three manufacturing plants this year - Sara Lee, Flexible Flyer and Best Textiles International - and more than 1,300 jobs.
"The government seems to want award contracts to companies in order to spread the business around the country to keep the labor force healty and competitive."
That's not the reason.
Actually the "government" could not care less about keeping the labor force healthy and competitive.
The real reasons that we do multi-source contracts are two fold:
First, to ensure support in Congress for the programs, we end up spreading the work around different congressional districts, thereby ensuring that the local congressman will support it and vote yes,
Second, to ensure that no single attack on the producer will entirely stop production of any single component of our forces.
The original idea was years ago so that if someone nuked a single area, it would not entirely eliminate our ability to produce a family of weapons systems.
It was a good idea, but there are still several components of our defense industry today that if a bad guy blew it up, it would cripple our economy. We have not taken that lesson to heart very well, as military contractors and American industry in general, and multi-national corporations in particular, have consolidated over the years into single, large facilities.
I won't go into it here for obvious reasons, but suffice it to say that certain critical components of things that go into our military weapons (and pretty much everything that moves within the U.S.) could be taken out by a single, well placed attack.
It has nothing to do with keeping a "healthy and competitive workforce". It's simply the profit motive that drive such "putting all your eggs in one basket".
Dual source, or multi-source contracts, are one way to reduce the risk of knocking out defense production. Too bad much of our industrial base has already eroded, because I fear for the possibilities that still remain should the bad guys decide to try and take some of it out.