US Rep. Mike Turner has been active in urging US action to support the Ukrainian government. (Courtesy)
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WASHINGTON — US Rep. Mike Turner continues to focus on America’s response to global crises while his rivals for the House Armed Services Committee gavel continue to work on acquisition reform and shipbuilding.
One of the Ohio Republican’s rivals to become HASC chair next year, Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., this week spoke at a Washington think tank about military technological innovation.
Earlier this month, his top rival, HASC Vice Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, played a prominent role in a panel hearing on defense acquisition reform, an issue on which he’s leading an in-depth committee special study.
As Forbes and Thornberry were busily raising their profiles inside the beltway, Turner was busily raising his outside it.
Turner continued on Thursday to play his outside game, signaling he would, as chairman, focus more on America’s role in the world, especially in dealing with matters like Russian aggression in former Soviet Bloc countries.
He sent a letter to US President Barack Obama, and he got right to his hawkish point with this opening line: “The United States should immediately seek to provide the Ukrainian armed forces with the military capabilities required to eliminate all anti-aircraft systems currently being used in the Russian-backed separatist territory in eastern Ukraine.
“The removal of these anti-aircraft systems from this hostile region is essential to restoring Ukraine’s control over its sovereign territory, preventing the further loss of innocent human life, and allowing global commerce to transit freely through the skies,” Turner wrote to Obama.
“Until these weapons are completely eliminated and the Ukrainian military has the ability to maintain air superiority over its sovereign territory, the conflict area will remain a threat to Ukraine, our NATO allies, and the United States.”
Turner cited the recent shootdown of a Malaysian passenger airliner and then two Ukrainian military fighter jets, telling the commander in chief the alleged repeated use of anti-aircraft systems by Russian-backed separatists “clearly shows that despite the tragic loss of innocent life, the situation will continue to escalate if left unresolved.”
Providing a glimpse into what a Chairman Turner Era might look like, Turner recommended to Obama what the United States should do to help the government in Kiev.
“This assessment provides several scenarios for the United States to directly and indirectly equip the Ukrainian Armed Forces with more modern and robust capabilities,” Turner wrote. “I support the assessment’s recommendation to directly transfer excess E2-C Hawkeye surveillance aircraft as well as ground vehicles, body armor, night vision goggles, and communications equipment.” ■