December 4, 2011 in Opinion

Defense cuts are too risky

Manuel Bajaksouzian Special to The Spokesman-Review
 

The congressional supercommittee concluded its work without an agreement on $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade.  The impasse could lead to automatic cuts to national defense, which accounts for 20 percent of federal spending. Congress has already cut $460 billion from the defense budget over the next decade; automatic triggers could allow an additional $600 billion in cuts.  As a general manager overseeing the Liberty Lake office of a company in the defense industry, I believe additional cuts would be a serious mistake.

Parker Aerospace’s Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division here provides fluid metering, delivery, and atomization devices for gas-turbine engines used in commercial and military aircraft, and power generation.  The division also provides an extended array of thermal management systems for heat control in high-tech applications.

Parker Aerospace equipment is used on virtually everything that flies, from airliners made by Boeing, Airbus and other manufacturers, to the F-22 and other military aircraft, to Apache helicopters.

The company employs 43 residents of the Spokane area and 5,600 nationwide.  The jobs we offer are well-paying, with good benefits in a positive work environment.  In this time of high unemployment, these are the kind of jobs that make the state of Washington and America strong and healthy economically and industrially. These are the kind of jobs we need to keep.

I firmly believe that the U.S. Congress should preserve funding for defense, space and civil aviation.  Such cuts would have a deleterious effect on the aerospace industry, degrading U.S. military capabilities and threatening our nation’s position as a world leader in aerospace. Hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs would be sacrificed.

Our country has over 1.5 million Americans serving in uniform, is involved in two wars, and risks terrorist attacks from a variety of sources.  To meet these challenges, our military needs the advanced, life-saving technology and equipment that the aerospace and defense industries provide.  However, significant defense cuts hamper our ability to supply our military with these tools.  With the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in test flight, for example, there are no new manned military airplanes or helicopters in development for the first time in 100 years. 

U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta himself recently noted that such cuts would have “devastating” implications for America’s national security and industrial base.  He asked Congress to act to prevent such cuts, saying it would “tear a seam in the nation’s defense.”

Deep cuts to space and civil aviation programs, specifically NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, would have an adverse effect on our nation as well.  NASA allows the United States to retain its space leadership, and both NASA and the FAA play a key role in the planning and execution of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which promises to transform the U.S. air transportation in the 21st century.  

We need the support of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the community to preserve funding for defense, space and civil aviation.  Let’s retain our leadership in the global aerospace industry.

Manuel Bajaksouzian is the general manager of the Parker Aerospace Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division in Liberty Lake.

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