Dear Mr. President:
We ask for your immediate assistance and support for C-23 Sherpa funding until another suitable fixed-wing option is available for our war-fighters and to respond to the needs of the citizens of Florida and Texas during emergencies. Since the decision was made to retire these aircraft early without suitable replacements, our state leadership and Congress have made known the dire consequences looming for combat formations as well as the states that lose this vital capability. Just as these aircraft have served us well in theater to resupply the men and women located near smaller airfields, their versatility and affordability give states a cost-effective means to meet crucial emergency responders' needs when minutes count to save lives during a disaster.
Although we understand the divestiture of these aircraft has been postponed by Congress, Florida and Texas have been informed the Department of the Army will not allow the aircraft to operate after the end of the 2012 calendar year. Accordingly, the aircraft would be moved, beginning in November, to a maintenance facility for engine swap and remain at that location indefinitely. If this in fact is the plan, Congress's intent of retaining this aircraft has been lost. Congress included language in both the House and Senate versions of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to retain the C-23, and on September 28, 2012, C-23 preservation was enacted through H.J. RES. 117.
Our country has more than 86,000 armed service members in Afghanistan, and both Florida and Texas are highly vulnerable states with large populations geographically exposed to hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires. The nation needs the C-23 as a versatile and inexpensive asset for our war-fighter and emergency responders. We especially need to keep units like those in Florida and Texas, which have served with distinction and received national recognition for operational effectiveness and safety. Costs to maintain these crucial aircraft are miniscule compared to the security risks that will result from losing them.
Protecting this important asset for our overseas and domestic commitments until a suitable replacement capability is identified is essential. It will be a small investment for our national security. We respectfully urge your intervention to ensure that federal funding is provided to operate and maintain the C-23, as intended by the legislation that Congress enacted and you have signed into law.