(Nov. 29, 2005) -- LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, Councilmembers Frank Colonna and Tonia Reyes Uranga and Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D. Carson-LB) met in Washington, D.C. on November 29 with Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne to encourage the Defense Dept. to continue its orders of Boeing C-17 aircraft.
The high level meeting with the Secretary Wynne -- who answers to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld who answers to President Bush -- underscored the importance of the matter to LB City Hall.
A written release issued by City Hall after the meeting quotes Congresswoman Millender-McDonald as saying, "We asked Secretary Wynne to find ways to secure funding for Boeing’s C-17 program for the sake of national security and economic viability in Southern California and throughout the nation. The C-17 aircraft have played an important role in the nation’s defense capabilities, and as a result, has fostered national and regional economic impacts of more than $8.4 billion."
Mayor O'Neill, who also serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said, "In addition to the loss of jobs in Long Beach and other cities that support that C-17 program, we believe that it is a national security oversight to cease production of the C-17 aircraft."
At the news conference, she said losing the C-17 program would be a "disaster."
Councilmember Frank Colonna, who chairs the Council's Federal Legislation and Environmental Affairs Committee, said in the release, "We encouraged Secretary Wynne to find ways to continue funding for 15 planes next year, and to secure multi-year funding to fund more planes at a rate of 15 planes per year."
Councilmember Tonia Reyes Uranga, who also serves on the Council's Federal Legislation committee, said "The C-17 is all that is left of the city’s proud tradition of aircraft manufacturing."
City Hall's release said Boeing's LB C-17 facility is the largest military aircraft production line in the U.S., employing more than 7,000 people; the program has suppliers in 42 states, and employs approximately 30,000 people.
"The Boeing C-17 program has had a positive impact on Long Beach and the nation. We hope that Secretary Wynne recognizes the fact that the loss of the C-17 will diminish our country’s national security capabilities and have an extraordinary negative economic impact on the nation and the region," Mayor O’Neill said.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, on Nov. 10 the U.S. Senate approved an amendment to the 2006 Military Appropriations bill which would maintain production of the C-17 transport aircraft pending Pentagon review of U.S. airlift capabilities.
The amendment, sponsored by Senators Jim Talent (R, MO) and Joe Lieberman (D. CT) and co-sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, CA) [text below] was approved on a bipartisan 89-9 vote. Supporters said the amendment would protect lift capability to deploy and sustain forces overseas.
However the amendment doesn't actually give the Air Force or the Pentagon funding to do so. [As an astute reader pointed out in an email to us, "the Air Force or DoD would have to suddenly find billions of dollars to buy more planes."
Point taken...but the legislation also tells the White House that there's support on Capitol Hill for including C-17 funding in the coming White House FY 07 budget (which debuts in early 2006)...and Congress has the last word on budget spending (subject to a possible presidential veto).
Specifically, the Senate legislative verbiage:
SEC. 131. C-17 AIRCRAFT PROGRAM AND INTER-THEATER AIRLIFT REQUIREMENTS.
(a) MULTIYEAR PROCUREMENT AUTHORIZED.--The Secretary of the Air Force may, in accordance with section 2306b of title 10, United States Code, enter into a multiyear contract, beginning with the fiscal year 2006 program year, for the procurement of up to 42 additional C-17 aircraft.
(b) CERTIFICATION REQUIRED.--Before the exercise of the authority in subsection (a), the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a certification that the additional airlift capacity to be provided by the C-17 aircraft to be procured under the authority is consistent with the quadrennial defense review under section 118 of title 10, United States Code, to be submitted to Congress with the budget of the President for fiscal year 2007 (as submitted under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code), as qualified by subsection (c).
(c) ADDITIONAL EXPLANATION OF INTER-THEATER AIRLIFT REQUIREMENTS.--
(1) INCLUSION IN QUADRENNIAL DEFENSE REVIEW.--The Secretary of Defense shall, as part of the quadrennial defense review in 2005 and in accordance with the provisions of section 118(d)(9) of title 10, United States Code, carry out an assessment of the inter-theater airlift capabilities required to support the national defense strategy.
(2) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.--In including the assessment required by paragraph (1) in the quadrennial defense review as required by that paragraph, the Secretary shall explain how the recommendations for future airlift force structure requirements in that quadrennial defense review take into account the following:
(A) The increased airlift demands associated with the Army modular brigade combat teams.
(B) The objective to deliver a brigade combat team anywhere in the world within four to seven days, a division within 10 days, and multiple divisions within 20 days.
(C) The increased airlift demands associated with the expanded scope of operational activities of the Special Operations forces.
(D) The realignment of the overseas basing structure in accordance with the Integrated Presence and Basing Strategy.
(E) Adjustments in the force structure to meet homeland defense requirements.
(F) The potential for simultaneous homeland defense activities and major combat operations.
(G) Potential changes in requirements for intra-theater airlift or sealift capabilities.
(d) MAINTENANCE OF C-17 AIRCRAFT PRODUCTION LINE.--In the event the Secretary of Defense is unable to make the certification specified in subsection (b), the Secretary of the Air Force should procure sufficient C-17 aircraft to maintain the C-17 aircraft production line at not less than the minimum sustaining rate until sufficient flight test data regarding improved C-5 aircraft mission capability rates as a result of the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program and Avionics Modernization Program have been obtained to determine the validity of assumptions concerning the C-5 aircraft used in the Mobility Capabilities Study.