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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Military Shocker

I am watching on National Geographic Channel an episode of Ultimate Factories centered on the M-1 Abrams tank. They just mentioned something that has me absolutely floored. The Anniston Army Depot that rebuilds Abrams tanks is the focus of the show.

One of the 1,000 items rebuilt is the powerpack. According to this show and confirmed by this article from 2000, there has not been a new AGT 1500 turbine engine made since 1992. Yes 12,000 were produced and the Army was looking for a replacement, but this is 2007 and Abrams are still running on overhauled engines. 15 years and no new engine? Read the article from 2000 and wonder like I do, if the lumbering Crusader managed to kill off a viable new engine for the Abrams.

Why is this getting under my skin? Anniston is having to almost hand fabricate turbine blades for the AGT 1500 to keep them going. The sand from desert fighting blasts the blades until they suffer what is called blade hooking. What should be a square blade with a curvature to it instead resembles a hook attached to the turbine boss. And if one of these hooked blades break free, its shrapnel in the engine or FOD. Anniston is rebuilding 29 powerpacks a week, before their rate was 14 a week. Are we truly getting our tax dollars worth out of this project? Or is this just another delayed cost of the 1990s Peace Dividend when it seemed half the US Army was eliminated, the USAF lost wings of fighters, and the Navy saw its strength start to slip?

6 comments:

Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Wow, that is a shocker!! Someone called in from the military to Rush's show the other day. He said that the cuts Clinton enacted on the military in the 90's are still being felt today.

Mike's America said...

It's amazing how they can keep all this complicated machinery running. You've probably seen the shows featuring the boneyard out in the Soutwest desert with all the military aircraft being used for spare parts.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

He said that the cuts Clinton enacted on the military in the 90's are still being felt today.

In less than three years, deployments increased while manpower decreased from 2.1 million to 1.6 million. That decrease was the foundation upon which stood Al Gore's purported "reinvention" of government. Of the 305,000 employees removed from the federal payroll, 286,000 (or 90%) were military cuts.

The statistics for America's defense during the Clinton years reveal the deep-seated animosity of the administration toward those who served in the military. The Army was cut from 18 divisions to 12. The Navy was reduced from 546 ships to 380. Air Force flight squadrons were cut from 76 to 50.

While the U.S. military was used as a 'meals on wheels' service by the Clinton administration in its nation building adventures, the military had its own humanitarian crises at home on its own bases. The pay freeze instituted by Clinton was imposed on a military in which 80 percent of all troops earned $30,000 per year or less. Food stamp applications soared and re-enlistment rates dropped.

Anna said...

The Clinton administration accelerated the drawdown that was originally planned under the Bush administration. Gulf War I delayed it but by 1992 the drawdown was happening. VII Corps in Germany just two years after Gulf War I was half its original size.

While the military was RIFing the middle echelons of enlisted and officer, as Wordsmith said the ops-tempo ramped up. Haiti and Bosnia spring to mind. Somalia was inherited from Bush but Clinton allowed it to grow from feed the poor to nation building and capturing warlords, akin to the task force that is still in Bosnia hunting Serbian war-criminals. Air Force Times and Army Times in the mid-90s was constantly publishing articles on over-deployment. This lead to the Air Force inventing Air Expeditionary Forces in order to attempt to privde some semblance of a plan to all the airment being deployed to death. I will relate a personal experience that happened when I got a chance to support the missions in Bosnia, we arrived and relieved a unit at a site but the unit the people we were releiving belonged to no longer existed in Germany, the unit having already been dis-establish leaving these guys as the last of their unit.

Another bitter area of the CLinton re-inventing government was the outsourcing of military jobs to civilian contractors. Which lead to the rise of Haliburton and other companies. And now we see an article about the 800 contractors killed so far. Lets remember it was Clinton who brought this idea to the US government, before it was just a way for Saudi Arabia to hire skilled technicians to tend the military gear they bought but was beneath them to actually fix.

Anna said...

Mike, yeah AMARC is pretty cool. Thankfully the USAF has locked down on what information is available. No longer does the public web-site list what is currently stored at AMARC.

B-52s, A-10s, F-111s, F-14s, and lots of others are stored there. Now if we can keep the recycled parts out of Iranian hands we will be doing good while keeping the military going.

Tom said...

Sounds familiar - run something to death before replacing it and NOT have a backup plan...

Military spending cuts over the years have crippled our military. Sorry, you Liberal Dems, it was Clinton and his ilk that put us in this mess, not GWB.

It's hard telling if the Crusader hosed up the powerplant replacement, but it would be interesting if someone is looking at adapting that technology for the M1.