Anniston Army Depot has been selected as the primary repair depot for the Army’s newest armored vehicle, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby announced Wednesday.
The depot will repair the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle, an armored vehicle now being built for the Army.
“The Army’s decision to select Anniston Army Depot for this work highlights the Depot’s world-class workforce, first-rate facilities, and proven track record of combat vehicle repairs,” Shelby is quoted as saying in a press release.
Anniston is one of the Army’s main repair depots for armored vehicles and tanks damaged in combat or worn down through long-term operation. With 3,600 workers, it’s the county’s largest employer, but the size of the workforce depends on the workload, and the depot’s number of employees shrank after drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nathan Hill, military liaison for the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, said it’s difficult to estimate the number of jobs the AMPV work could bring to the depot. He said the main impact may be in preserving jobs — because the depot also repairs the M113, the vehicle the AMPV is intended to replace.
The Army has used the M113 since the Vietnam era. The vehicle has been adapted to a number of battlefield purposes, such as troop carrier, ambulance and mobile command post — but soldiers have complained that it’s too slow and doesn’t have enough armor to survive improvised explosive device attacks.
The AMPV is intended to remedy those problems, while still being fitted out for multiple roles like the M113.
“This system has a lot of products: an infantry-carrying vehicle, an ambulance, a missile vehicle,” Hill said.
Army estimates have projected that any new jobs may not show up for another decade or more. Hill said the depot could see work on some components of the AMPV by 2021, though full vehicles wouldn’t come to Anniston for repair “until the late ’20s.”
Anniston was in competition with another depot, Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, for work on the AMPV. Lawmakers had talked in recent weeks of the chance that work would be split between the two depots.
Hill said it was likely “some component work” would go to Red River, though the bulk of the work would come to Anniston.
“That’s great news,” Hill said.
Mike Malone, CEO of the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce near the Red River depot, said Wednesday that the chamber had heard nothing about an AMPV decision.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, thanked Shelby for his work on the AMPV proposal in a prepared statement released Thursday.
“Anniston is the U.S. military’s premier repair and overhaul facility and this new mission will continue its vital work for our men and women in uniform,” Rogers was quoted as saying in the statement.