GCN Guest Opinion
by: Sen. Trent Lott
Filed 2/16/07 GCN
Mississippi is the beneficiary of three far-sighted decisions that signal
a new day and strengthen our reputation as a state on the move. We are
transforming into a community better suited for the challenges and
opportunity of a new century.
Contract— I’ve chronicled in this column Mississippi’s budding
aerospace industry, and this week we received another affirmation that
this industry has a bright future here.
I recently met with Karl Von Guttenberg, a
member of the German parliament and senior advisor to the German
Chancellor, about the possibility of the German government selecting a
joint venture between Northrop Grumman and EADS, a European aerospace
company, to supply an unmanned aerial vehicle to the German military.
Both Northrop Grumman and EADS have new
facilities in Mississippi – the former company building unmanned aircraft
in Moss Point, and the latter building civilian helicopters in Columbus.
Shortly after my meeting with German officials, the German Government
selected the Northrop/EADS venture to produce their “Eurohawk” in Moss
Eurohawk will be a derivative of the U.S.
Military’s “Globalhawk” unmanned aircraft which began production last year
at Northrop Grumman’s new state-of-the-art factory in Moss Point. That’s
great news for hundreds of Mississippi’s workers who will be building this
Purpose— For decades the residents of Perry County have tried
to capitalize on the salt domes near Richton. Their composition makes
them a safe storage site for important resources like petroleum.
U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman came to
Mississippi on February 14 to designate the Richton Salt Domes as a
preferred location for President Bush’s expansion of the nation’s
strategic fuel reserve, which our nation retains for national emergencies
like Hurricane Katrina.
Having a site inland in Perry County will
help insulate this critical reserve from future hurricanes. If needed,
this crucial fuel can be easily transported to one of the nation’s largest
refineries, in nearby Pascagoula, for distribution.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a very
important safeguard. Not only will this facility create new jobs in the
Richton area, it also will help protect America’s overall economy and
Mission — Finally, I want to mention another huge decision that
will positively impact our state by preserving 400 current jobs and adding
almost 200 new jobs at the National Guard base at Key Field in Meridian.
As many of you know, the 186th
Air Refueling Wing was slated to lose its air-refueling mission and its
fleet of tanker aircraft due to a decision by the Base Realignment and
Closure Commission (BRAC). Many Mississippi families were worried about
the future of the base, but I was committed to finding a new mission for
this outstanding, storied unit.
This month, the Pentagon slated the 186th
for, not one, but two new
missions: Basing eight new cargo aircraft there, and adding a
“warfighting center” to serve the NORTHCOM command.
This was the right thing to do, not just for
Mississippi, but for the best interests of America’s defense. Thanks to
the hard work of the late Congressman G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery and our
Congressional delegation, the Guard facilities at Meridian are first
class, and the personnel there are equally impressive. In fact, just days
before the new mission’s announcement, the Meridian Air Guard was given an
“excellent” mission readiness rating by the Air Force, reaffirmation of
their importance to the military and their vital role in America’s defense
Indeed a new day is dawning in Mississippi.
We’re taking the vast human and physical resources we have and turning
them into strengths that work for the betterment of Mississippi, America
and the entire world.
Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column.
Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building,
Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office) or