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Working Today for Our Community's Tomorrow

The Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the United States

Established 1991

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LUSUS
The Online Newsletter of PALCUS
 
Special News Alert! 

PALCUS Supports U.S. Maintenance of Lajes Air Base

 

The 65th Air Base Wing is the American unit stationed at Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal. It is a key part of the long-standing, positive relationship between the United States and Portugal.

 

PALCUS has consistently advocated for strong maintenance of the Lajes Air Base by the Department of Defense, not only for the benefit to the local economy of the Azores but for its strategic role in U.S. humanitarian and defense operations in the region.

 

On June 14, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014, including a section limiting the reduction of U.S. military presence at Lajes Air Base on the island of Terceira, Azores.


According to section 341 of the FY2014 NDAA, "The Secretary of the Air Force may not reduce the force structure at Lajes Air Force Base... until 30 days after the Secretary of Defense concludes the European Infrastructure Consolidation Assessment initiated by the Secretary on January 25, 2013, and briefs the congressional defense committees regarding such Assessment. Such briefing shall include a specific assessment of the efficacy of Lajes Air Force Base, Azores, in supporting the United States overseas force posture."

 

This language was included in the bill at the request of the Portuguese American Caucus of the House of Representatives in a letter signed by Congressmen Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Bill Keating (D-MA), David G. Valadão (R-CA), David Ciccilline (D-RI), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jeff Deham (R-CA) and Douh LaMalfa (R-CA).


As the bill now moves to the Senate as S. 1034, PALCUS has made its position known in a letter to the co-chairs of the Friends of Portugal Caucus of the U.S. Senate, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Patrick Toomey (R-PA).


You may wish to send your own letter of support to your senator. Below is a draft letter you can copy and paste into an email or print out and mail.  

 

Who is your senator? Find them here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

 

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Draft Letter for Local Senators
 
Copy and paste this letter into an email to your senator, or print it out, sign it and send via U.S. mail.

 

***********************************

 

Dear Senator [Name],

 

I am writing to urge you to support Sec 341 contained in Senate Bill S. 1034 which, prohibits "the Secretary of the Air Force from reducing the force structure of the Lajes Air Force in the Azores until the Secretary of Defense concludes the European Infrastructure Consolidation Assessment initiated by the Secretary on January 25, 2013, and briefs the congressional defense committees regarding such Assessment".

 

This bill, whose counterpart in the House of Representatives passed as HR 1960, was supported by the Portuguese-American Congressional Caucus under the leadership of David N. Cicilline (RI), Devin Nunes (CA), Jim Costa (CA), David G. Valadão (CA), Bill Keating (MA), and James P. McGovern (MA) among others.

 

As you may know, there are more than 1.5 million Portuguese-Americans in the United States, a large portion of who not only claim Azorean ancestry but have family members residing in the Azores. The Lajes Air Base on the island of Terceira has become an integral part of Azorean life for decades contributing greatly to the local economy. It is clear that a drastic reduction at the air base will have a severe economic impact on the Azores.

 

Most importantly, however, is the importance of the presence of the United States at Lajes in the mid-Atlantic critical to our nation's strategic defense and global readiness.  The historically strong ties with Portugal as one of our nation's most steadfast and reliable allies have made this strategic position possible.

 

The following are the most compelling reasons for maintaining our strength at Lajes:

 

  • Lajes Field is a valuable asset that enables the expeditionary movement of US military resources and global communications to AFRICOM and CENTCOM's joint, coalition, and NATO operations;
  • Lajes is a crucial site for countering the greatest regional threat, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has known ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Boko Haram, and al-Shabab;
  • Terrorist hot-spots can all be reached from Lajes Field in less than 8 hours' flight time and with few if any over-flight concerns;
  • From Lajes' strategic location, all 16 of the African countries that hold State Department Travel Warnings can be reached within 6 hours;
  • Few other military bases in EUCOM or AFRICOM that can match Lajes' unique capabilities;
  • Unlike some of our other European allies, Portugal has never denied us the ability to conduct operational missions;
  • It would cost billions to build a base like Lajes today, and if our strategic planners insist on giving up something this vital, then at the very least, the US should encourage the creation of a pilot program to privatize its operations, to keep them running round-the-clock, and to guarantee 24/7 access to the site;
  • The absence of an American presence at Lajes would create a vacuum that could easily be filled by other nations with more self-serving agendas, such as the Republic of China which has already advanced overtures in the area.

Passage of this section of S. 1034 is in the interests of our national defense and the long-standing relationship with our faithful ally, the Republic of Portugal.

 

Sincerely yours,

(signed) 

 

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Email: palcus@palcus.org

Website: www.palcus.org

Phone: 202-466-4664

 

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Manassas, VA 20110  

 

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PALCUS Mission

In order to create a singular voice to advocate  for the Portuguese American and Luso-American communities at large, the Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States Inc. (PALCUS) was founded in 1991  as a 501 © 3 non partisan, non profit, organization headquartered in Washington D.C.
 
The PALCUS mission is to address domestic and international concerns of the  Portuguese American Community.
 
The Council conducts an expanding program of educational and public affairs activities on issues of interest to the Portuguese American community and of salience to the Luso-American Relationship.
 
PALCUS is committed to serving the community through increasingly active government relations efforts, the promotion of a greater awareness of ethnic accomplishments and encouraging stronger ties between Portugal and the United States. In this role PALCUS advance the community professionally, politically and culturally while working to ensure that issues directly affecting our community are addressed through our network of government and community leaders.

PALCUS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.  Donations are tax deductible to extent allowed by law.