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Report says Army arsenals, including at Rock Island, are in a death spiral

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - The factory at the Rock Island Arsenal has lost hundreds of employees and struggled for years to get more work.

In 2008, there were 1,700 employees at the Rock Island Arsenal's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center; and currently there are just over 1,000.

The JMTC at the arsenal means a lot to Army veteran David Stires, who just opened "True Position Manufacturing" and hopes to work with the factory.Worker at JMTC at Rock Island Arsenal

"When I was in Iraq, the Arsenal provided us the armor blading for our Humvees; I was in the field artillery so they provided me Howitzers," said Stires.

The JMTC is working on a large order, retrofitting Humvees into ambulances, but it's not enough.

"They don't have enough work load and it's becoming more of a problem," said Steve Beck, AFGE Local 15 president.

Since 2014, $245 million has been given to the JMTC to keep it open, and in a Government Accountability report Department of Defense officials characterize the army's arsenals as in a 'death spiral.' Report on manufacturing arsenals

"I disagree with that, because many of them are looking at the arsenals of 20-30 years ago and those arsenals were really built on an ancient idea," said Senator Dick Durbin (D) Ill.

The ancient idea is the 'Army Arsenal Act,' which requires the Department of Defense to use arsenals to make all army supplies; but only if the arsenal has the best deal, and that isn't always the case.

So, some lawmakers are trying to change that act.

"In this legislation that we're pushing forward there is a three-year pilot program, which would allow greater flexibility for those labor rates, allow them to be adjusted," said Senator Joni Ernst (R) IA.

Ernst said this legislation could also generate more interest from any private business if the bill is signed into law.

Stires, from True Position Manufacturing, says more business at the Arsenal benefits his company, and others like it, as well.