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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel - Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)

Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Kay Granger (R-TX) led a bipartisan coalition today voicing their opposition to a Defense Department contract to purchase helicopters for the Afghan National Security Forces from Russian state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport. The latest contract came just days after the House of Representatives voted 423-0 on a DeLauro-Granger amendment to end the Department of Defense's relationship with Rosoboronexport. The letter sent by DeLauro, Granger, and 80 other members requests Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel answer questions about the contract required in the amendment.

"As you know, Russia serves as the main arms supplier to Syria providing weapons the regime is using to fuel a tragic war in that country that has thus far claimed at least 93,000 lives," they wrote. "Even as Rosoboronexport was providing weapons to the Syrian regime last year, DoD entered into no-bid contracts to purchase Mi-17 helicopters for the ANSF from the firm.

"In response, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (P.L. 112-239) and the 2013 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-6) prohibiting 2013 funds from being used to enter into contracts with Rosoboronexport. The Department of Defense is maneuvering around the law and using Fiscal Year 2012 Afghanistan Security Forces Funds to enter into this new contract.

"That is why the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 to strengthen the prohibition on DoD contracts with Rosoboronexport."

In addition to the strong bipartisan vote, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction revealed last month that the Afghan Security Forces receiving Rosoboronexport's helicopters are not trained--or even have enough people--to fly them, further calling into question the wisdom of this contract. Accordingly, the letter also asks Secretary Hagel to provide justification for buying these helicopters despite the inability of Afghans to use them.

The full letter is as follows:

July 11, 2013

The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Hagel,

We strongly oppose the Department of Defense's (DoD) recently signed contract with the Russian state arms dealer Rosoboronexport to supply 30 additional Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The signing of the contract blatantly ignores the intent of Congress which was reaffirmed with the bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives, 423-0, seeking to end DoD's business relationship with Rosoboronexport. It also appears ill advised in light of a recent Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report critical of the purchase.

As you know, Russia serves as the main arms supplier to Syria providing weapons the regime is using to fuel a tragic war in that country that has thus far claimed at least 93,000 lives. Even as Rosoboronexport was providing weapons to the Syrian regime last year, DoD entered into no-bid contracts to purchase Mi-17 helicopters for the ANSF from the firm.

In response, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (P.L. 112-239) and the 2013 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-6) prohibiting 2013 funds from being used to enter into contracts with Rosoboronexport. The Department of Defense is maneuvering around the law and using Fiscal Year 2012 Afghanistan Security Forces Funds to enter into this new contract.

That is why the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 to strengthen the prohibition on DoD contracts with Rosoboronexport. The amendment granted you a national security waiver allowing you to purchase equipment from the Russian arms dealer so long as you submit a report to Congress 30 days prior to any such purchase.

That report requires you to provide Congress with information that we now respectfully request you provide by responding with the following:

An explanation of why it is in the national security interest of the United States to purchase equipment from Rosoboronexport;
An explanation why comparable equipment cannot be purchased from another corporation;
An assessment of the cooperation of Rosoboronexport with the Defense Contract Audit Agency;
An assessment of whether and how many S--300 advanced anti-aircraft missiles have been delivered to the Assad regime by Rosoboronexport; and
A list of the contracts that Rosoboronexport has signed with the Assad regime since January 1, 2013.

In addition, the SIGAR report, Afghan Special Mission Wing: DOD Plans to Spend $908 Million to Build Air Wing that the Afghans Cannot Operate and Maintain, questions "the wisdom of moving ahead with the provision of 30 new Mi-17s." The report notes that DoD's massive $908 million financial investment, including the Mi-17 purchases, in the Afghan Specialty Mission Wing (SMW) is moving forward even though the Afghans have not yet agreed to NATO's concept for reorganization within the Afghan government to support the SMW and even with a lack of planning to transfer critical maintenance and logistics functions to the Afghans. Accordingly, we also respectfully request that you provide justification for procuring 30 additional Mi-17 helicopters despite the inability of the SMW to use them.

We firmly believe that DoD should not purchase helicopters or any other equipment from Russia as it continues to arm Assad's regime. Moreover, it is unconscionable that American taxpayers are subsidizing a company that is complicit in atrocities occurring in Syria.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Rosa L. DeLauro
Kay Granger
James P. Moran
Jack Kingston
Keith Ellison
Frank R. Wolf
James P. McGovern
Walter B. Jones
Gerald E. Connolly
Michael H. Michaud
Peter J. Roskam
Jim Bridenstine
Jon Runyan
Tim Ryan
Michael T. McCaul
Barbara Lee
John B. Larson
Betty McCollum
Alan Nunnelee
Terri A. Sewell
Marcy Kaptur
John Conyers, Jr.
Howard Coble
Kenny Marchant
David N. Cicilline
Jim McDermott
Mario Diaz-Balart
Steve Stivers
Janice D. Schakowsky
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
Raul Grijalva
William L. Owens
Gary C. Peters
Sam Farr
Alcee L. Hastings
Elizabeth H. Esty
Peter Welch
Tony Cardenas
Tim Griffin
William L. Enyart
Tom Cole
Ted Poe
Bobby L. Rush
Randy K. Weber, Sr.
Austin Scott
Niki Tsongas
Louise M. Slaughter
John Garamendi
Charles B. Rangel
Trey Radel
Michael G. Fitzpatrick
Steve Cohen
Tom Rooney
Stephen F. Lynch
Tammy Duckworth
Joe Courtney
Adam B. Schiff
James A. Himes
Derek Kilmer
Ann McLane Kuster
Juan Vargas
Mike Quigley
Martha Roby
Henry C. Johnson, Jr.
George Miller
Albio Sires
Daniel T. Kildee
Denny Heck
Alan Grayson
Joe Garcia
Jackie Speier
Colleen W. Hanabusa
Bill Johnson
Carol Shea-Porter
Joseph Crowley
Alan S. Lowenthal
Brian Higgins
Daniel B. Maffei
Rob Andrews
Andre Carson
Karen Bass
Ken Calvert


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