Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wrote a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner Nov. 30, saying DOD is concerned about legislation that would bring commercial oil drilling in closer to Florida’s Gulf Coast. Rumsfeld maintains such a proposal is “incompatible” with military testing and training activities. Florida’s Senate delegation has been lobbying DOD to weigh in on the proposal, which would allow drilling in areas up to 25 miles off the Gulf Coast, infringing on the military training area utilized by Air Force and Navy aircraft. A vocal opponent of the new drilling rule, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), says he opposes the 25-mile rule and a new proposal for a 150-mile buffer that would still “cut 84 miles” off the military range.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.