The Pentagon has decided it’s in the “national interest” to keep buying MI-17 transport helicopters for the Afghan military from a Russian company.
The Defense Department “has an urgent, near-term need to purchase an additional 30 new military-use MI-17 helicopters” to equip Afghanistan’s counter-terrorism forces, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently wrote.
The controversial deal was first announced in April. From RIA Novosti:
The US Department of Defense said Thursday it plans to sidestep a Congressional ban to purchase 30 helicopters from Russian state-owned defense firm Rosoboronexport, despite objections from US lawmakers who allege that the firm has equipped the Syrian government to commit brutal crimes against civilians.
“The Department of Defense (DOD) has notified Congress of its intent to contract with Rosoboronexport for 30 additional Mi-17 rotary-wing aircraft to support the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) Special Mission Wing,” Pentagon spokesman James Gregory told RIA Novosti in emailed comments.
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, approved by Congress last year, includes an amendment that prohibits financial contracts between the United States and Rosoboronexport, except when the Secretary of Defense determines that such arrangements are in the interest of national security.
“Given current timelines, the department has determined that Rosoboronexport is the only viable means of meeting ANSF requirements” for the helicopters, Gregory said.
The contract totals $690 million, most of which would go to the Russian arms maker, he added…
A bipartisan Congressional group wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week in which they objected to the ongoing business relationship between the Russian arms company and the Pentagon.
“What is the national security justification of continuing business with Rosoboronexport?” they asked in the letter.
“Russia continues to transfer weapons through Rosoboronexport to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria,” they continued. “Since the Syrian uprising began, Russia has continued to serve as the Assad regime’s chief supplier of weapons, enabling the mass murder of Syrian citizens at the hands of their own government.”
If the U.S. does pull out of Afghanistan and the Taliban does take the country, as expected, no doubt they will find these helicopters a very useful means of hunting down opponents.
And Russia, America’s number one enemy, shouldn’t be building up its military capabilities with U.S. taxpayers’ money.
American soldiers died at the hands of a German military machine, partially built by American companies. Must this treason happen again?