Friday, June 10, 2005

Outsourcing Our Security

Sikorsky Helicopter, based in Connecticut, is one of that state's largest employers and a major player in America's defense industries. It has built the Marine One helicopters -- the President's helicopters -- since the Eisenhower Administration.

Senator Christopher Dodd wrote me: "On January 28, 2005, the Department of the Navy announced its decision to award the contract for the next generation of Marine One Helicopters to a consortium led by Lockheed Martin. On the merits, the Sikorsky VH-92 should have been the clear winner. Sikorsky has manufactured the Marine One here in the United States since the Eisenhower Administration and has a flawless record of safety and performance. Lockheed has never built helicopters at all. The so-called US-101 aircraft which was selected for the Marine One Contract was designed by AgustaWestland, a British-Italian corporation. In fact, nearly one-third of the aircraft will be built overseas.

"The fact that the United States will now be depending on foreign military contractors to design and construct the Marine One would, in my view, put American national security at risk. After all, Marine One is far more than a mode of transportation for the President of the United States. It will be outfitted with some of the most advanced technology available to ensure secure communications and easy maneuvering to avoid any possible threats from the ground and air. As long as the President is in flight, this aircraft will be a global nerve center, with critical information constantly flowing in and essential decisions flowing out. This aircraft needs to be safe and well-equipped to ensure secure communications. For obvious reasons, the technology making this happen needs to be protected at all costs....

"When we rely on foreign manufacturers to build our troops' planes, tanks, missiles, and armor, we are not only losing American jobs, we are losing the expertise and experience necessary to build the military systems that will protect American security in the 21st century. The United States has the best-equipped military in the world because American companies specializing in defense technology have built up generations of experience and know-how. Each time workers are laid off and their jobs sent overseas, our experience and knowledge base erodes – and eventually disappears. I believe it is imperative for us to stop outsourcing our defense industry and instead to make concrete investments in research, development and production here at home."

Senator Dodd gets it (at least as far as Marine One is concerned). We are outsourcing our manufacturing, and letting those superior skills and records of high-quality/high-productivity to die out. We are outsourcing our creative abilities -- everything from our military, business and household inventions to computer animation and cartoon production -- and killing our immense creative and inventive capacities. We are letting America's most valuable resources -- a creative, energetic, productive people who have proven to the world that we can-do anything -- wither away. In the name of cheap labor we are giving away our very strengths to imitators, copiers, pirates. And to both potential and sworn enemies.

Senators Dodd and Lieberman are fighting the Department of the Navy to get that contract -- and jobs -- back to the U.S. "on March 1, 2005, along with my colleague, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), I introduced S. 486. This important legislation would prevent the Secretary of the Navy from procuring helicopters under the presidential helicopter replacement program unless the contract requires that the helicopter is made in the United States and with only American manufactured parts."

Are your Senators on board with this bill? Ask them. The job you save may be your own.


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