Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) made the case on the Senate floor today that the future of the American automotive industry has crucial implications for the Army.
As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin said he wants to focus on the connection between the automotive industry and its contributions to national defense. He called this link "a central component of the debate" over making federal loans to U.S. automakers and urged other senators to "consider that important reason" when voting.
As a senator from Michigan, home of the Big 3 -- Ford, Chrysler and General Motors -- Levin has worked with the Army's Tank Automotive Research and Development Command, the Army's National Automotive Center and the Automotive Research Center in an effort to create partnerships between DOD and the automotive industry.
Levin read a statement from TARDEC director Grace Bochenek that highlighted the research and development initiatives ongoing between the Army and the American automotive industry. Listed were lightweight vehicles, robotics and alternative fuel programs among others.
Politico is reporting that Levin's press aides are circulating a memo that argues if the Big 3 go down, so too will suppliers that also provide spare parts to the military.
The link between the auto and defense industries, Levin’s memo points out, lies in the automakers’ vast supplier base.
A number of companies that aren’t household names, such as Arvin Meritor and Detroit Diesel, can’t keep supplying the military with axles and engines if they don’t have enough work from the automakers. And the military already struggles to find suppliers for the many components needed for its ground vehicles.
If suppliers disappear along with Detroit’s auto companies, the cost of replacement parts could skyrocket, Levin’s memo warns.
According to Politico, Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wants auto companies to get involved with the manufacturing of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.