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Marine Corps general tours JLG

September 23, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. -- JLG Industries has enabled the military to put new mine-resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan as early as late September, exceeding the expectations of Marine Corps Systems Command Commander Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan.

Following a tour of JLG Industries in McConnellsburg, the general said Wednesday he is "thrilled" with the expeditious and enthusiastic work that will equip the theater with tactical vehicles.

"This has been done in an amazing amount of time," he said.

Oshkosh Corp., parent company of JLG, contracted with the Department of Defense on June 30 to build the MRAP-ATVs by the end of the year. The latest of two contract extensions moved the deadline to March 2010 and increased the order to 4,296 total vehicles.

Valued at $2.3 billion, the contracts continue to buoy struggling JLG, which had reduced its work force by 50 percent by mid-summer of 2009, JLG President Craig Paylor said.

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Once production reaches full throttle in December, the Fulton County plant will manufacture 500 of the monthly 1,000-vehicle quota. The rest will be manufactured by Oshkosh in Wisconsin, Brogan said.

JLG has recalled more than 500 employees to fulfill the contract.

As many as 650 could be called back to work, Paylor said, adding that all recalled employees will return to the McConnellsburg plant.

The plant's involvement in the war effort made it a critical stop for the general.

"We have already taken deliveries of vehicles from here in McConnellsburg," Brogan said. "This reflects the talent and dedication of the workers."

Brogan's tour comes on the heels of a similar tour by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

The vehicles being built by Oshkosh and JLG will be the only new vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan once the contract is fulfilled, Brogan said.

Afghani terrain is very formidable, to the point that the current base MRAPs, like those manufactured at Letterkenny Army Depot, are not suited for the country's raw infrastructure.

"Because of the challenges in Afghanistan with moving supply parts, the extended lines of communication and the immature infrastructure, we heard what the troops said, what the combatant commander said, and decided we would buy only one vehicle for this theater of operations," he said.

"With the proposals submitted (by Oshkosh), the production capacity and the vast network of subcontractors, vendors and suppliers, there is no need for us to have a second supplier," he said.

Brogan said the DOD has authorized as many as 6,644 MRAP-ATVs be manufactured for testing as well as for use in Afghanistan.

"Some of the workers were about to run out of unemployment, and now they are back on a project," Paylor said. "As long as there are vehicles to build, they will be here."

While Oshkosh accelerates production of the MRAP-ATVs, JLG's construction division continues to struggle due to the economy, Paylor said.

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