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Army brass is confident on vehicle programs

Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno were bullish Monday about the prospects for their various vehicle programs, despite skepticism around Washington about budget headwinds and the Army's ability to manage effectively.

McHugh and Odierno were asked specifically about the Senate panel's decision to zero out funding for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which the Army wants to build with the Marine Corps. The leaders said they're confident they can sell the Senate and anyone else about the viability of the program.

"We've made some creative progress on JLTV," Odierno said. The Army and the Corps are "locked arm-in-arm" on the program and he said top service officials will soon make their case to Senate appropriators: Assistant Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joe Dunford and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli will make the sales pitch, Odierno said.

Meanwhile, the services and their would-be JLTV vendors-- BAE Systems and Navistar; Lockheed Martin; and General Tactical Vehicles, a joint venture of General Dynamics Land Systems and Humvee-builder AM General -- are, by all appearances, proceeding with the program as normal. Officials released a draft request for proposals last week, along with one for another important vehicle program: Recapitalizing the Army and Marines' fleet of Humvees.

McHugh and Odierno appeared at the trade show of the Association of the United States Army, now underway in downtown Washington's sprawling convention center. They repeated now-familiar warnings about the consequences of potential defense budget reductions: DoD and the Army can absorb the $450 billion in slimming the administration has already proposed, McHugh said, but anything else, including the Doomsday Device sequestration, would be "catastrophic."

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