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Scott and Perry to Obama: Don't defund army aircraft in our states

Gov. Rick Scott and Texas Gov. Rick Perry penned a letter to Pres. Obama today, asking the Commander in Chief to continue funding for the C-23 Sherpa aircraft, which is currently being phased out by the army.

The C-23 aircraft is used by the Army National Guard, but a new army strategy involves phasing the so-called "Sherpa" out by 2014, with both Florida and Texas losing their two such aircraft this year.

According to Scott and Perry, that would lead to “security risks” in Florida and Texas, which both are prone to hurricanes, flooding and other emergencies.

“Although we understand the divestiture of these aircraft has been postponed by Congress, Florida and Texas have been informed the Department of the Army will not allow the aircraft to operate after the end of the 2012 calendar year,” Scott and Perry wrote to Obama.

They both asked that Obama provide the funding necessary to operate and maintain the C-23 aircraft in their state.

Scott has maintained a thorny relationship with the federal government, rejecting billions of dollars for high-speed rail, Medicaid expansion and child healthcare, and squaring of in several lawsuits about voting rights and other matters. In recent months, Scott has asked the federal government to provide funding aid for Tropical Storm Isaac, fund more customs officials at Miami International Airport and work to avoid the defense cuts that would come along with the so-called fiscal cliff.

Those requests have either been rejected, or remain pending.

See Scott and Perry’s letter, below:

October 11, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We ask for your immediate assistance and support for C-23 Sherpa funding until

another suitable fixed-wing option is available for our war-fighters and to respond to the

needs of the citizens of Florida and Texas during emergencies. Since the decision was

made to retire these aircraft early without suitable replacements, our state leadership and Congress have made known the dire consequences looming for combat formations as well as the states that lose this vital capability. Just as these aircraft have served us well in theater to resupply the men and women located near smaller airfields, their versatility and affordability give states a cost-effective means to meet crucial emergency responders' needs when minutes count to save lives during a disaster.

 Although we understand the divestiture of these aircraft has been postponed by Congress, Florida and Texas have been informed the Department of the Army will not allow the aircraft to operate after the end of the 2012 calendar year. Accordingly, the aircraft would be moved, beginning in November, to a maintenance facility for engine swap and remain at that location indefinitely. If this in fact is the plan, Congress's intent of retaining this aircraft has been lost. Congress included language in both the House and Senate versions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to retain the C-23, and on September 28, 2012, C-23 preservation was enacted through H.J. RES. 117.

 

Our country has more than 86,000 armed service members in Afghanistan, and both Florida and Texas are highly vulnerable states with large populations geographically exposed to hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires. The nation needs the C-23 as a versatile and inexpensive asset for our war-fighter and emergency responders. We especially need to keep units like those in Florida and Texas, which have served with distinction and received national recognition for operational effectiveness and safety. Costs to maintain these crucial aircraft are miniscule compared to the security risks that will result from losing them. 

Protecting this important asset for our overseas and domestic commitments until a suitable replacement capability is identified is essential. It will be a small investment for our national security. We respectfully urge your intervention to ensure that federal funding is provided to operate and maintain the C-23, as intended by the legislation that Congress enacted and you have signed into law.

 Sincerely,

Rick Scott Rick Perry

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