Congress Tired Of "Gut-Level Instincts When it Comes To
Billions Of Dollars"
A joint amendment to the 2008 defense authorization bill has
been filed that requires an independent study of the airlift
requirement of the US military.
The amendment, sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), was
actually born out of congressional frustration, according to
Congress Daily. Several lawmakers say they receive mixed messages
about just what is needed to support the Air Force's fleet of C-5
Galaxys and C-17 Globemaster IIIs.
The amendment calls for a detailed study on just what the Air
Force airlift needs actually are conducted by research and
development center that is, of course, federally funded. The study
would look at current and future military missions and how
permanent increases in Army and Marine Corps personnel would affect
airlift needs, among other things.
It sets a deadline of February 2009 for submission to
Any discussion of airlift issues usually pits C-17 supporters
against the C-5 advocates with each side striving to protect its
own. McCaskill, part of the C-17 camp (Boeing has facilities in her
state, after all) had to work to garner support from C-5 Senators
such as Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden and Senate
Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Edward Kennedy.
"This amendment will ensure that an independent study looks
closely at the country's strategic airlift needs," McCaskill said.
"With the investment we're making in the Future Combat System, I
believe that we will find that we need more, not less, airlift
capability in the future, and that includes the continued
production of the C-17."
A Senate aide who is supportive of the C-5 program said Friday
Congressional supporters of both aircraft want "an even-handed
approach to get the real facts" and are "hopeful this will give us
a really good, objective look at the key issues."
Members of Congress -- who have long received inconsistent
assessments from the military about their airlift fleet -- are said
to be growing weary of "four-star officers' gut-level instincts
when it comes to billions of dollars," said the aide.
In its version of the authorization measure, the House of
Representatives authorized 10 additional C-17s... but the Senate
version adds no new planes.