A package of proposed cuts by the Pentagon that could imperil hundreds of jobs at a General Dynamics facility in Taunton is set to be presented to congressional committees Friday, company and government officials said.
A spokesman for the Republican majority on the House Armed Services Committee said it expects that the Pentagon submission will involve a large amount of so-called reprogramming requests, in which the military diverts unspent funds from existing contracts to other uses, such as for unexpected cost overruns.
General Dynamic officials said they expect the Pentagon to recommend a $414 million reduction in the annual appropriation for its military communications project called WIN-T, for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical. The system, which would allow ground troops to exchange data via satellite while on the move in vehicles, is being developed at the company’s Taunton plant, which employs about 1,000 workers.
The Pentagon declined to comment. But Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Congress earlier this month that reprogramming would be needed to help pay for higher-than-expected fuel costs and other short-term overruns.
The House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees must sign off on the move. John S. McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ranking Republican, vowed earlier this year to block any diversions that would fund new, unauthorized programs not urgently needed to protect troops. And Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said this week he opposes taking funds from the Warfighter network.
So far, the Pentagon has refused to say exactly what the money would be used for, or to even confirm which projects are at risk.
“Reprogramming is fairly routine, but the size of this one is not routine,” said Claude Chafin, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee. “We understand that the world is a very fluid place and that defense requirements can change throughout the course of the year. . . . But there is some concern, given the statements made earlier by our nations’ senior commanders, that there were no unfunded requirements remaining.”
Chafin said reprogramming requests would be judged on how they aligned with Congress’s policy priorities.
“We’re sensitive to not politicizing these requests as much as possible, but to examine them on their merits,” he said.
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