Anniston Army Depot workloads could drop if military aid to Egypt is cut
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Aug 22, 2013 | 3947 views |  0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Workers are seen on the M1A1 line at Anniston Army Depot in this file photo. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
Workers are seen on the M1A1 line at Anniston Army Depot in this file photo. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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The Anniston Army Depot could potentially lose millions of dollars in revenue if the White House decides to cut military aid to Egypt in the wake of bloody conflict there.

The depot has received steady work from Egypt, more than $60 million-worth of military vehicle repair and manufacturing work in just the past two years. But due to the recent crackdown by Egypt’s military on dissidents there that has resulted in hundreds of deaths, the federal government is mulling over cutting all military aid to the country. A decision to end aid could take a significant bite out of the revenue at the depot – a facility that has already faced layoffs and furloughs due to various federal budget cuts.

The depot employs more than 2,800 workers, most of whom repair, modify or upgrade combat vehicles and small arms for the military and some foreign governments.

According to records from the Logistics and Business Development Office at the depot, during its 2012 fiscal year the facility provided labor to produce new M1 Tank AGT-1500 turbine engines at a cost of $49.5 million for Egypt. The engines power the M1 series of Abrams tanks. The work was done in a public-private partnership with Honeywell, an American multinational conglomerate that provides a variety of products and engineering services to individual consumers but also governments.

Also in 2012, the depot repaired and returned M1A1 Abrams tank components at a cost of $29,351 to Egypt.

So far during the depot's 2013 fiscal year, the facility provided labor in partnership with Honeywell to produce new M1 Tank AGT-1500 turbine engines at a cost of $10 million for Egypt. The depot this year has also repaired and returned M1A1 components at a cost of $1.8 million for Egypt.

Details on any ongoing or planned work for Egypt at the depot were unavailable Thursday.

Nathan Hill, military liaison for the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, said any cuts to military aid to Egypt could potentially impact the depot.

"If they're into more work with Egypt now ... then if they cut off aid, that will cause an impact," Hill said.

The White House recently stated that U.S. aid and assistance to Egypt is under review, but has not yet been cut off. The next military weapons shipments for Egypt are scheduled for next month, including 10 Apache helicopters at a cost of about $500 million, the Associated press reported on Thursday. Also scheduled for delivery are a number of M1A1 tank kits, including machine guns and other equipment used with the tanks, as well as some used missiles, the AP reported.

The Pentagon has argued for pragmatism in the U.S. response to Egypt, according to the AP. Defense officials say cutting off aid would threaten key national security agreements and could rattle the peace between Egypt and Israel.

The depot has already faced various cuts this year. The depot laid off 371 workers at the end of March due to the drawdown of the war in Afghanistan. Depot workers were also recently forced to take six days of unpaid leave due to federal budget cuts known as sequestration that began this year. Sequestration is expected to continue next year.

Shrene Funderburg, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1945, the union that represents depot workers, said that she doubted cuts in aid to Egypt would impact the depot significantly.

"We're not doing a lot of large work for Egypt ... I don't think we have anything right now," Funderburg said. "I don't think it would affect us too much."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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