Defending America at Redstone Arsenal, and making money too

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - The OH-58 Kiowa Helicopter was, until recently, an important part of the U.S. Army's helicopter fleet.  That is no longer case, and now the Army has a bunch of surplus Kiowas. No problem -- they'll be sold to our partners; countries we consider allies.

"We also sell the capability for maintenance. We also sell the spare parts. We also sell the training that goes with that. We also sell the publications that go with that, and the ability to store it. That entire portfolio of things you might need for them to sustain, maintain and keep the capacity within themselves," says Cliff Crivello, the Chief Financial Officer for The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC).

USASAC workers at Redstone Arsenal are busy refurbishing Kiowa helicopters right now, and they will be sold. "It's sort of a win-win scenario," says Crivello. "It allows us to maintain those relationships to take care of the areas that are important to us, either our national strategies, or our military strategies. But it also allows these sovereign countries to take care of themselves, and not always have to come to us for example, to do something."

Another win for the program. The sales bring in a lot of money -- some $20 billion last year. "Okay, if I was a Fortune 500 company, and we're not a business. But if we were a business, we'd be in the top-tier of the Fortune 500 as far as the value of the program," says Cliff Crivello.  The value of the program is about $170 billion.

All kinds of items are sold, including trucks, ammunition and helicopters. Congress and the State Department decide who's eligible to buy them. "And then a lot of time is spent with a lot of rigor. When something is identified that they might want... can we release it? Is that configuration going to give away some of our technology?  There's a lot of effort spent on that to make sure we don't do that," says Crivello.

The gear, new and used, goes only to eligible customers.  Technology is guarded, and there's one more thing to know. "This organization that I work for, your tax dollars are not paying for it. It does not come from appropriated funds. It comes off a surcharge to the customer that is managed by the trust fund. So we are free to the government.  So if someone is out there wondering, why do we use our tax dollars to do this?  They're not," says Crivello.