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Pentagon budget woes: furlough civilians, buy tanks you don't want

Once again, the Pentagon wants to scrap a weapon – in this case, the Abrams tank – that Congress has an interest in preserving. But with 'sequester' cuts, the tradeoff will be civilian furloughs.

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Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno testifies on Capitol Hill on April 23. The Army’s hulking Abrams tank, built to dominate the enemy in combat, is proving to be equally hard to beat in a budget battle, because of a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on tanks, which the Pentagon does not want.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Even as the Pentagon struggles to make some tough, congressionally mandated cuts to its budget, lawmakers are now trying to force defense officials to buy expensive equipment that the military insists US troops do not need.

The most recent example of this congressional arm-twisting involves the hulking, 70-ton Abrams tank. 

In the face of sequestration (the 10-year plan to cut federal spending by $1.2 trillion that went into effect March 1), the US military has warned that it will have to trim back on crucial troop training exercises and maintenance. 

 
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