A U.S. House of Representatives panel has preserved funding to refurbish Humvees despite an Army request to shift some of the money to pay for more urgent needs.
The House Armed Services Committee, headed by Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., denied the service's request to transfer $171 million from a program to refurbish, or re-capitalize, the iconic four-wheel drive High Mobility Multi-purposed Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV, known as Humvee and made by AM General LLC, based in South Bend, Ind.
"These funds are necessary ... to sustain reset as units return home from Afghanistan and other deployments," McKeon and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the highest-ranking Democrat on the panel, wrote to Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale in a letter dated June 21 and obtained by Military.com. "Rapid reset is vital to overall unit readiness, and ... these vehicles could be used to address current shortfalls in the Army National Guard."
The Humvee program had the highest transfer amount denied by the committee in its latest review of the Defense Department's overall request to shift $9.6 billion to pay for higher-than-expected war costs and other expenses.
The Army originally planned on spending $271 million in fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30, to upgrade 2,128 of the light trucks, for an average cost of $127,350 per vehicle, according to budget documents.
The work is performed at the Army's Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, where workers rebuild the trucks and install upgraded components such as frame rails, air conditioning and on-board vehicle power systems.
In other big-ticket programs, the panel also denied proposals to transfer $140 million from the Air Force's Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures, $128 million from the Army's battlefield communications network Warfighter Information Network-Tactical and $33 million from the Air Force's C-130 cargo plane.
The panel deferred decisions on a number of other high-dollar transfers, including $563 million from blast-resistant trucks known as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, $101 million from medium-duty trucks called Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, or FMTVs, and $97 million from the self-propelled howitzer known as M109 Paladin Integrated Management.
In smaller-ticket items -- but ones that drew the harshest criticism from lawmakers -- the committee denied requests to transfer a total of almost $32 million from the Air Force's research and development account for advanced technology development, specifically, advanced materials for weapons systems, aerospace propulsion, and power technology and manufacturing technology program.
"The Department would be foolish to think that it could so blatantly disregard both congressional priorities and prerogatives in determining funding levels for programs supporting national defense," the letter states. "The committee expects that future reprogramming requests should not attempt a similar tactic of brazenly disregarding the role of Congress in determining sufficient levels of funding for programs."