US Army Secretary in Mishawaka: Humvee will be a mainstay for the next couple of decades
MISHAWAKA, Ind. —- US Army Secretary Mark assort visited the AM General plant in Mishawaka on Thursday.
Secretary Esper said he likes to go out and visit the major industrial facilities the US Army has contracts with to make sure he understands how the industrial base is going. He said he hopes his visit demonstrates his interests and the Army’s commitment to sustaining the Humvee fleet.
“Not just sustaining it but working with AM General leadership and with the Congress to make sure we make the investments to make sure it remains relevant and ready for future battefields,” Sec. Esper said.
He said that right now the Army is in the midst of a Renaissance with regard to everything they do. In the Army Vision, modernizing equipment is an objective the Army has set to meet in the coming years.
According to the vision, modernization includes experimenting with and developing autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and robotics. Sec. Esper said the ability to operate either semi-autonomously or fully autonomously are capabilities the Army wants moving forward.
However, according to reports, President Donald Trump called “the autonomous vehicle revolution ‘crazy.’”
Esper said the Army has a number of programs underway with regard to long range precision fires. He said it ranges from extended range cannon artillery to hypersonics.
He said he appreciates the ‘innovative- ness’ of AM General.
“It’s that type of effort that type of innovation that really helps us solve big tough problems,” he said.
According to the US Army’s latest order in October, the Humvee has proven its worth to the military beach. The plant will create 740 new military vehicles valued in total at $89 million.
According to Sec. Esper, the Mishawaka plant is the only plant in the world that creates Humvees for the US Army. But it’s possible the plant on McKinley Highway was up for sale in 2018.
“Yeah, I’m not tracking the sale if you will,” said Sec. Esper. “I’m not familiar with that.”
An AM General spokesperson told ABC 57 News they never confirmed or denied the sale. According to the company, they don’t talk about private business because they are a private corporation.
But Jeff Rea, the president of the South Bend Chamber of Commerce said the sale of AM General’s commercial plant in 2017 to SF Motors shows the Mishawaka plant is an attractive asset.
“It was bought pretty quickly,” he said. “Because the quality of the facility and the great workers they have there.”
He said the health of the company has relied heavily on the US Army’s investment. Rea said the federal government decided to replace the Hummer vehicle in the future with a new Bravo 1.
“They produce that in OshKosh, Wisconsin,” he said. “So we certainly had hoped that vehicle would be produced here and obviously has an impact.”
ABC 57 News asked Sec. Esper how the US Army works with locations close to being put on the market. He said as US Army Secretary he needs to make sure they maintain a robust industrial base.
“Look we’re going to have 100,000 or so light trucks in the Army for some time to come,” he said. “Humvees will be a big part of that for that fleet.”