Gates Visits Oshkosh Factory

Defense Secretary Robert Gates traveled to a factory line in Oshkosh, Wis., which is making a new kind of armored vehicle for the war in Afghanistan. Gates personally thanked the company's workers.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The secretary of defense paid a visit yesterday to a production line in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Robert Gates was there to see the companys new, more agile armored trucks, trucks the Pentagon has ordered to protect troops from the homemade bombs that are the number one killer of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. NPRs Mary Louise Kelly was there.

(Soundbite of factory machine)

MARY LOUISE KELLY: This is the factory floor for the Oshkosh Corporation. On his visit, Secretary Gates dawned safety glasses and wondered the rows of chassis and engine parts. Then he stopped to thank the workers for rushing the vehicles to troops who need them.

Secretary ROBERT GATES (Defense Department): You all have the opportunity to work on one of the few projects where your efforts have a direct and immediate impact on men and women fighting on the frontlines.

KELLY: In Iraq, its been the MRAP - thats short for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle - thats proved so successful at deflecting the blast from improvised bombs. These new vehicles are a slimmed-down cousin, designed to be able to drive off-road and avoid places where bombs are likely to have been planted. The Pentagon has already ordered more than 6,000, and if President Obama decides to send more troops to Afghanistan, they may have to order even more.

Mary Louise Kelly, NPR News.

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