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Shuster tours JLG in McConnellsburg

August 18, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. -- U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster toured JLG Industries Tuesday to glimpse the new armored vehicles being produced for American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Oshkosh Corp., the Wisconsin-based parent company of JLG, has contracted with the U.S. Army to build 3,944 mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles, or MRAP-ATVs, by February.

The $2 billion in contracts brought the congressman to McConnellsburg to tour the facility, he said.

A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Shuster is actively involved in reviewing U.S. military strategy against insurgents.

Having recently visited Afghanistan, Shuster said the men and women of the U.S. military are eagerly awaiting delivery of the vehicles, which can travel on any terrain.

The MRAPs currently used by the military are made for use in cities, not in rural provinces like Kandahar, he said.

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"They (soldiers and Marines) need a vehicle that can go off-road in pursuit of the enemy," he said. "That is what these will do."

The congressman met with executives from JLG and Oshkosh before his tour, which was not open to the media or the public due to security regulations.

In addition to thanking him for his support of military efforts, JLG President Craig Paylor acknowledged Shuster's work to help the 9th district through tough economic times.

Having experienced a 58 percent reduction in its work force to date, Paylor said the latest military contracts signal a turn for the better for JLG. Shuster, he said, was instrumental in bringing those contracts home to McConnellsburg.

"The congressman has been very helpful in advising as we bid for (military) contracts," Paylor said. "So far, we have been able to recall 200 employees."

JLG is planning to recall as many as 650 employees to plants nationwide.

While the company plans to accelerate production of the vehicles to 1,000 per month, only 46 of the vehicles have been shipped for testing.

Oshkosh CEO Charles Szews said the first vehicle should be on the ground in Afghanistan sometime in October.

Shuster said he is proud of the military support from the community, and praised McConnellsburg for its patriotism and work in the war effort.

One of the new MRAP-ATVs will be on display Friday and Saturday at the Fulton County Fair.

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