Capitol Hill Wants its Army Network

Welcome to another federal budget season, where concerned letters from Congress to the Pentagon start flying like Rumsfeldian snowflakes as lawmakers look to ensure the health of programs rooted in their districts.

For their part, the Massachusetts delegation is particularly concerned about General Dynamics’ WIN-T battlefield communications program—which is responsible for hundreds of jobs at the General Dynamics facility in Taunton, Mass.—from which the Army wants to shift funding from in order to pay for war costs in Afghanistan.

On May 20, and the state’s Senate delegation sent separate letters to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Army Secretary John McHugh pleading that the $128 million that the Army wants to shift from the program’s 2013 budget be retained.

Army leadership has made WIN-T the backbone of the entire Army modernization program, demanding that new vehicles like the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Ground Combat Vehicle, and Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle all be built with WIN-T compliance in mind. The $128 million would take a bite out of the program, but it would hardly kill it. The Army asked for about $1.2 billion for WIN-T in fiscal year 2013, including $893 million for procurement.

The letter that Sens. Elizabeth Warren and William Cowen sent to Sec. McHugh said that while they understand that “sequestration has created a difficult budget environment and that tough choices must be made…the Army should take all possible steps to protect the WIN-T…from further reductions.”

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Paul McLeary

McLeary covers national security policies at the White House, Pentagon, the Hill, and State Department.
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