Opinion Columns & Blogs

Stop outsourcing national security

As our economy continues to struggle and unemployment remains high, we grieve as our neighbors' jobs move out of the country. But it seems that some of our own government's policies are actually contributing to the outsourcing.

An alarming trend continues at the Pentagon — outsourcing American national security to foreign-run companies. The practice decreases the possibility for new American jobs in the aircraft manufacturing sector while also putting our national security at risk.

In 2005, Italian company AgustaWestland won the contract for Marine One, the presidential helicopter replacement program. In 2006, the light utility helicopter contract, which is for the next-generation helicopter for the U.S. Army, was awarded to European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. In 2008, the air-refueling tanker program was also given to EADS, a contract that was later overturned based on findings that the Air Force acquisition team bent federal acquisition regulations.

Then the Department of Defense reportedly entered negotiations with Brazilian company Embraer to build 100 light attack aircraft without even taking bids from American suppliers. Fortunately, Congress stepped in to force a competition, allowing other willing American aircraft companies to bid. Hawker Beechcraft is now in competition with Embraer for the contract.

President Obama visited Brazil in March to strengthen ties. The trip was necessary considering the significant polarity between our two countries recently. Brazil supports Libya's Moammar Gadhafi staying in power. United Nations sanctions pressed by the United States to stop Iran's nuclear goals were ignored when Brazil cut a deal to process uranium for Iran. Brazil opposes our Cuban policy and even criticized our humanitarian efforts after the earthquake in Haiti. Its leaders oppose us on many fronts.

This opposition should be a serious concern to the Department of Defense, especially given that the government of Brazil holds "golden share" stocks with Embraer, giving it veto power over Embraer's business transactions. If Embraer becomes a weapons system supplier, geopolitics could make our troops vulnerable should Brazil's government disagree with U.S. policies. Our troops should not be put in such a vulnerable position.

In human terms, if Embraer wins this current Air Force contract, we give away the opportunity to grow American jobs. But if Hawker Beechcraft wins the Air Force contract, more than 1,400 U.S. jobs are needed for production.

Outsourcing American national security makes our troops vulnerable and our country less safe, particularly if we continue to allow jobs to flow out of our country and the U.S. defense industrial base becomes diminished. Americans can voice their opinion regarding this matter by visiting the websites www.house.gov and www.senate.gov to let elected representatives know their opposition to outsourcing our national security.

It is time to stop the flow of jobs overseas.