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Choctaw Nation branching into military contracts

ANADARKO, Okla. - The Choctaw Nation recently broke ground on what is projected to be a 90,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in McAlester, Okla., which will build Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trailers for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The new facility, due to be completed in December of this year, is part of a contract that began June 16, 2005, between the Durant-based tribe and the Marine Corps. The contract, upon completion, will exceed $100 million. The new facility will provide more than 60 jobs with the average pay rate for production jobs being $11.50 - $14.50 per hour, in addition to professional level jobs exceeding $40,000 per year.

The trailers that eventually will be built in the new facility will replace the M149 water tank trailer, M353 general purpose trailer and the M105 cargo trailer that are currently in use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Steve Benefield, managing officer for Choctaw Manufacturing and Development Corp., said that these trailers will be added to new trucks that are in current development by the Marine Corps.

''It's the next generation of trailers to go with their medium tactical vehicles,'' he said. ''What they've done is they've got a truck now that is so much more capable off-road than the truck it replaces that the existing family of trailers that are in inventory can't keep up with the new, modern vehicle as far as speed and ruggedness over terrain. They have to have a new generation of trailers that are just as capable as the new vehicle. They'll have a much more sophisticated suspension so they can follow behind the truck.''

Prototypes of the trailers have already been built and are currently being tested at the Nevada Automotive Test Center, located in Carson City, Nev.

According to Marine Corps spokesman Chad Kernen, the military was initially reluctant to work with a smaller manufacturer, but eventually the Corps decided to create the contract with CMDC.

''The Government was unfamiliar with the 8A small business, but willing to investigate their capabilities,'' Kernen wrote in an e-mail. ''Because of CMDC's drive for perfection, past performance, and dedication to their programs, it made them an excellent choice for the development of the MTVR Trailer program.''

CMDC is also working with the military on safety equipment and replacement parts for helicopters.

''With the war going on, our material over there and our equipment is just getting worn out,'' Benefield said. ''It all needs to be replaced.''

CMDC also has an additional contract with the U.S. Army Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate based in Fort Monmouth, N.J., where it is working with the military to develop high-tech weapons, radio and radar.

''We do rapid building and prototyping and training - anything to support this warfare directorate,'' Benefield said. ''We actually have a lot of CMDC subcontractors in Iraq right now installing a lot of the future weapons.''