Sen. Joe Lieberman (D/I-Conn.), head of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s airland panel, said earlier this week he disagrees with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ decision to stop production of Air Force C-17 transports at 205 units. “Every combatant commander I speak to tells me that we need more of these aircraft and I will work to make sure they stay in production,” Lieberman said in a release issued on April 6. Gates earlier that day had presented his major recommendations for DOD’s Fiscal 2010 budget to the press, which included completing the US military’s production run of C-17s at 205 aircraft. Gates said DOD’s analysis “concludes that we have enough C-17s.” In a separate statement April 6, Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) also criticized the move, questioning the logic of rendering a decision on the C-17 before the results of the Pentagon’s mobility capability requirements study are known around June. In fact, he called it “premature” and “an example of ready, fire, aim. Interestingly, the Obama Administration’s own defense agenda characterized the C-17 as one of the “essential” Air Force systems warranting greater investment.
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.