Rumors are rampant. “They’re coming for our trucks!” Conspiracy theories abound. “There are behind-the-scene pay-offs!” And there are many who are just reacting as they only know how. “The sky is falling!”
The simple fact is, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Disposition Services has temporarily suspended all sales of surplus military vehicles. Where it all gets a bit murky, however, is trying to determine what “temporary” means, and what, if any, lasting impact there will be on the public’s hobby of collecting, driving, preserving, and restoring military vehicles.
On June 18, 2014, DLA, contacted the Agency’s surplus sales contractor, Government Liquidation, and directed that the company discontinue offering for sale a number of tactical vehicle types. This directive included a list of National Stock Numbers (NSNs) that were no longer to be offered. At that time, the listing consisted of approximately 200 stock numbers. It has subsequently been revised and expanded to include replacement engines, off-road equipment, generators, as well as additional vehicles.
As with every panic that ripples through the hobby, I work hard to look past the emotional response and find out what is really happening. I am fortunate to be able to communicate directly with the Board of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) as they calmly work with various government agencies to assess the situation and determine a plan of action to address it.
After many days, the MVPA formulated a very nice explanation of what is happening. Supply Line editor, David Doyle, crafted this into an article which is available on the MVPA’s web site (http://www.mvpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/End_of_Surplus_Vehicle_Sales_email.pdf). I encourage you to read the entire piece.
As David explained in the article, “This cessation of disposal touched not only sales of this equipment, but also the entire re-utilization process outside of the Department of Defense (DoD). The Forest Service, state, county and municipal governments and other agencies were all suddenly cut off from the supply of surplus material – a supply chain that had been flowing continuously since WWII.”
You probably encountered some of the early “panic reaction.” It was in local newspapers, internet forums, and even delivered through television news outlets. All of these reactions centered on one item: The notion that local fire departments would be denied access to surplus equipment.
You bet that got people riled up! Well it took only one phone call to DLA Director of Disposition Services, USAF Col. Michael Cannon. His Public Affairs Officer, Ken MacNevin, explained that this was never the case, though a single media outlet had interpreted it as such, and everyone piled on it like monkeys on a candy banana. “The sky is falling” makes for good press and Internet banter, to be sure!
The fact is, this suspension is directly linked to the Clean Air Act, which is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While the cessation is new and unexpected, the regulations that brought it about are not. Though apparently unread, they have been on the books for decades.
In a phone conversation with MacNevin, he wanted to assure the readers of Military Vehicles Magazine, that they are not the target of this suspension. Rather, it is all an effort of the U.S. military to adhere by standards established by the EPA. This may take some time to iron out, but both the EPA and the DLA are fully aware of the value of the commitment collectors have to maintaining working examples of our historic military hardware.
So, the sky is not falling. It may be drooping a bit, and even a chunk or two may drop before this is resolved. It is important to know, however, that the Board of the MVPA and the editorial punch of Military Vehicles Magazine are working with the appropriate government agencies to find a solution.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Right now, I think it is important that the hobby speaks with a unified voice. It is not the time to harass politicians or Federal agencies. You do have a voice through the Board of Directors of the MVPA and through the editorial pages of Military Vehicles Magazine. I encourage you to write (i.e., DON’T call!) your comments and concerns and send them to us. I happen to know, firsthand, that the DLA big-wigs do read our magazines, blogs, and newsletters. They have commented directly on items they have gleaned from our prose. So, the magazines provide a great way for you to communicate your thoughts.
And speaking of magazines, at the recent MVPA Convention, I was confronted by a parts dealer who insisted he didn’t need to subscribe or advertise in Military Vehicles or join the MVPA. “Everything I need is on the Internet.” In fact, he went on to say how he applied an “Idiot tax” on people who bought parts from him on ebay! “They don’t know any better,” he explained, “They don’t get the magazines so they don’t know the value of the items I sell on ebay.”
Well buddy, the Internet ain’t gonna solve the cessation of vehicle and crucial parts sales for you. If it is going to be resolved so guys like you can keep selling and dedicated hobbyists can keep buying surplus trucks, it will be accomplished by those hard-working sods who agreed to serve on the Board of Directors of the MVPA and the gruesome duo of Nick and John at Military Vehicles Magazine. But yeah, we will be working for guys like him as well, regardless of his attitude.
I do I encourage you, however, to double-check your source the next time you place a parts order, or buy a vehicle: Is the seller an MVPA member and an advertiser in our two national magazines (Military Vehicles Magazine and Supply Line)? If not, cast your vote with your dollars… spend them with the people who believe in the hobby for more than just profit.
We will keep you updated with any information we receive. Watch the enewsletter, the magazine(s), this blog, and the MVPA news board. You don’t have to subscribe or be a member, we believe in the health of the hobby… and only trust you do, as well.
Keep ‘em rolling,
Editor, Military Vehicles Magazine and Military Trader