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Defense secretary pays visit to Oshkosh contractor

OSHKOSH --Defense Secretary Robert Gates came to Oshkosh Thursday to tour a plant where a new type of mine-resistant vehicle is being made for service in Afghanistan.

The Oshkosh Corp., has a $3 billion contract to deliver thousands of the all terrain vehicles by next spring.

Oshkosh Corp., already makes mine resistant vehicles for use in Iraq. Secretary Gates told a group of company employees the product is appreciated by soldiers there, "Troops love them, commanders sleep better at night," he said.

Now the company is gearing up to deliver more than 6,000 similar vehicles for troops in Afghanistan. The first M-ATV rolled off the line in July. Now Oshkosh Corp., is gearing up to produce 1,000 each month, between its operations in Oshkosh and another factory in Pennsylvania.

After thanking the employees, Gates went to a testing ground to see the All Terrain Vehicle in action. He said the military needed a different type of armored transport than what is being used in Iraq. Gates says there's a need for more off-road capability in Afghanistan.

Gates would not comment on whether more troops would be needed to fill all the new ATVs. He said that decision is up to the president.