In the latest installment of the defense industry and their Congressional representatives rallying to save DoD acquisition programs that directly affect their district/state/business, EADS North America and American Eurocopter held a rally on Thursday in Columbus, Mississippi to try and “save” the UH-72A Lakota helicopter program.
In its fiscal 2014 budget submission the Army slashed 31 Lakota’s from its previously announced procurement plans, deciding to buy just 10 more Lakotas, all for the National Guard.
Army officials told Congress during budget hearings earlier this spring that the active force would rely instead on the Black Hawk helicopters that are returning from theater to replace the Lakota’s flying in the United States.
Enter Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, who hooked up with executives from Lakota maker EADS North America and American Eurocopter to demand that Congress to restore funding for the Army’s Lakota program in 2014.
A statement released by EADS released in tandem with the event said that the cuts “would effectively end Lakota production by the end of 2014 and endanger the jobs of many of the more than 300 Columbus employees.”
Taking the stage, Gov. Bryant said that while he understands that “cuts must be made to alleviate some of the strain on the national debt, but it is counterproductive for the Department of Defense to cancel this cost-effective, successful program.”
Sen. Wicker, who voted for the 2011 Budget Control Act that introduced the sequestration legislation which blindly slashes Pentagon budgets by up to 10 percent across the board, added that federal budget cuts “should be focused on wasteful spending and not on programs like the Lakota that are vital to national security.”
Sequestration as enacted by Congress does not allow the armed services to make trades in what programs they cut. Every budget line, regardless of importance for national security, takes a hit.