Oshkosh Corporation’s Defense division will cut its employment by approximately 700 hourly workers beginning in mid-June 2013, to be followed by approximately 200 salaried positions in the following weeks, through July. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer of fire trucks, emergency, and military vehicles, said its Defense unit would have about 2,800 employees once the downsizing is in effect.

The Defense division specializes in building tactical wheeled vehicles, and providing “life-cycle sustainment services.”

The company said it expects domestic military vehicle production volumes to decline significantly as the year progresses, an outlook attributed to the reduction in U.S. defense budgets. "Defense spending is returning to peacetime levels,” explained Oshkosh v.p. of Human Resources Rod Wedemeier. “We're exiting Afghanistan, we've exited Iraq. Certainly that has an impact on the structure of the DOD and what they need for wheeled vehicles."

Daily production volumes are expected to decline by approximately 30% this summer, according to the manufacturer.

“These were difficult, but necessary decisions,” stated John Urias, Oshkosh Corp. executive vice president and president of Defense. “When other business segments of Oshkosh and many companies in the U.S. were enduring layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs during the Great Recession, Oshkosh Defense was hiring employees and retaining jobs which ended up helping many people manage through that difficult period. However, circumstances have now changed.”

Urias said the company has taken several actions to lessen the impact of downsizing, including in-sourcing work customarily done externally. That effort had preserved more than 165 production jobs, the executive said.

Oshkosh will continue to build trucks and trailers, and provide support service and training for military customers around the world.