Politico Story By Austin Wright
Members of Congress are urging Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to spare the Army’s tactical network the budget ax, following the leak of a draft reprogramming request that would slash funds for the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T program. “We understand the significant pressure being placed on the budget of the U.S. Army,” 71 lawmakers wrote Hagel in a letter obtained by POLITICO.
“Nonetheless, WIN-T … cannot sustain additional cuts — including cuts from reprogramming.”
The bipartisan letter, dated Friday, was signed by several lawmakers from Massachusetts, where much of the battlefield communications system is built, including Democratic Reps. Joe Kennedy, Niki Tsongas and Ed Markey, and by several members from Arizona, where many of the system’s subcontractors are based, including Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor and Republican Reps. Matt Salmon and Trent Franks.
The letter comes after the leak of a draft reprogramming request, obtained by POLITICO earlier this month, that would reduce funding for WIN-T by $128 million this fiscal year. The request, which would transfer billions of dollars from the military’s procurement and development accounts to help shore up major shortfalls in its operations and maintenance accounts, is expected to be submitted soon to Congress.
The prime contractor on WIN-T, General Dynamics, has been lobbying aggressively to prevent the Pentagon from taking funds from the system through reprogramming, as the Defense Department did during the last fiscal year to pay for unanticipated costs associated with the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon has requested nearly $1.3 billion for WIN-T in fiscal 2014.