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Nick Wakeman

Not just a tank story

The Army doesn’t want more tanks, but Republicans and Democrats in Congress keep shoving money -- to the tune of $436 billion over two years -- to modernize a fleet of tanks that doesn’t need modernizing.

The Associated Press is reporting that the Army wants to suspend the buying of Abrams tanks until 2017, when a newer version will be ready for production.

If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff told the Associated Press.

A lot of the political pressure to keep buying tanks is centered in Ohio, but that’s really beside the point.

This is just a crazy story, and shows just how little Congress has changed its ways when it comes to funding home town projects. It is very reminiscent of the B-1 bomber that survived numerous attempts to kill it off.

The argument in support of more tanks is the myriad jobs and businesses that rely on its production, as well as national security concerns.

But aren’t there opportunity costs, as well? What is being lost by not shifting dollars to other programs, or even cutting them entirely?

I don’t think we’ll see other such large examples, but there are pockets of this kind of congressional meddling throughout the budget and legislative process.

It illustrates just how difficult o a spot we are in. The Defense Department, a risk adverse organization whose mission puts people in harm’s way, doesn’t want more tanks. Shouldn’t that carry some weight?

There might not be a specific IT parallel to this story, but it’s a story about the process, and how difficult change will be. That impacts not just tanks, but every aspect of the government.

As sequestration rolls out over the coming months, and as we start to see fights over the debt ceiling and over the fiscal 2014 budget, we’re likely to see plenty more politics as usual.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 29, 2013 at 7:24 PM


Reader Comments

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 NC

Nick: You bring a very important argument into the procurement/budget/politics discussion. The economic impact to a state or region seems to be holding the rest of the country hostage. Some really tough decisions have to be made by government with the long term good of the country in mind vs. politics as usual.

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