We get our share of press releases from government offices. You'll be happy to know that all of them are via e-mail. No trees were harmed in the process of distributing this bureaucratic blather.
A recent note from Congressman Don Manzullo, R-Ill., stood out, however. A representative of northern Illinois, which is home to Rockford and other communities rich in manufacturing history, Manzullo is a long-time supporter of the manufacturing community. He's also been a vocal critic of the government when he feels U.S. manufacturers are getting shortchanged.
Manzullo is not happy that the U.S. Navy Systems Command is planning to purchase 21 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters to train Afghan pilots. Navy officials claim the Afghans are familiar with the Russian technology. Manzullo claims that Sikorsky helicopters, which are made in the U.S., can be found in a similar size and actually are less expensive.
In his letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Manzullo calls for the Pentagon to reconsider its procurement policies and give more consideration to U.S.-made products. Because the Department of Defense enjoys many waivers, it often doesn't comply with the spirit of the Buy American Act, according to Manzullo, which requires at least 50 percent of all goods and services purchased by the government to be made in America.
Everyone understands that the military advisers in Afghanistan have a job to do: Get the Afghan military up and running so they can stand up to the militant Islamic fundamentalists. Everyone, hopefully, also understands that U.S. manufacturers need their government's help. Introducing U.S. military technology to new customers is a great way to support U.S. manufacturers.
Truthfully, support for the Afghan military mission is waning. Ten years have passed, and the enemy has been wounded, but hardly eradicated.
Meanwhile, the economic recovery in the U.S. hardly feels like one. The government should be taking all the steps necessary to protect its own citizenry first. That means keeping U.S. manufacturers busy with orders from the governmental institutions sworn to protect them.