LACONIA — U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) told workers at Titeflex during a tour of the plant yesterday that any military action taken against Syria for using chemical weapons against civilians should be ''more than just a shot across the bow'' against the Assad regime.
''We want to make sure we're having an impact,'' said Ayotte, who added that she didn't favor an open-ended commitment on the use of force in Syria and hadn't yet made up her mind on how she would vote on any resolution proposed by the Obama administration authorizing a strike against the Hassad regime.
Ayotte's comments came in response to a question from Grace Berglund, a quality control engineer at Titeflex, during a meeting held with workers at the plant following Ayotte's tour with members of its management team.
Ayotte said that she will participate in a classified briefing on Wednesday in the Senate Armed Services Committee focusing on President Obama's request for an authorization to use military force in Syria. She said that the briefing will include Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
"The decision to authorize military action is one of the most serious decisions we confront,'' said Ayotte. "This briefing will provide an opportunity for me to ask important questions and scrutinize the administration's plan — including what the impact of failing to act would have on our country and countries in the Middle East, including Syria, Israel and Iran. I look forward to learning more about the president's objectives and his military strategy for achieving them.
"While I appreciated the president's address on Saturday, I believe he should address the American people in a prime time address before Congress votes, outlining why using military force against the Assad regime is in our national security interests, what our objectives will be in using force, and how we will achieve those objectives."
Ayotte said she was particularly concerned about what message would be sent to Iran and Korea and to terrorist groups with regard to the use of chemical weapons and there proliferation if there was no action taken at all by the United States.
She was also questioned about the impact of so-called sequestration, which has led to automatic federal spending cuts, on defense in general and could have an impact on Titeflex, which does 25 percent of its business in the defense field.
Ayotte said that she had not supported sequestration because ''there are smarter ways to do this'' rather than have across the board cuts.
She was at Titeflex as part of her statewide tour of businesses and met with Graham Thomson, general manager of Titeflex, and other members of the management team.
The company, formerly known as Smith Tubular Systems and prior to that as Lewis and Saunders, employs 350 people, making it the third largest employer in the city, behind Lakes Region General Hospital and New Hampshire Ball Bearings, and has annual sales of $85 million.
Titeflex is part of the Smith Group, based in London, and leads the world in steel braided and para-aramid flexible hose. Among its major customers are Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, Rolls Royce, General Electric and Airbus.
She said that the company is looking to expand and talked with her about their concerns over health care costs, federal tax rates and the barriers in obtaining Federal Aviation Authority for a foreign repair station in the Far East which would enable it to use its current repair capabilities to compete in a growing market.
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte tells workers at Titeflex in Laconia on Tuesday that any military action taken by the United States in Syria should be more than just ''a shot across the bow'' and have a real impact on the Assad regime for having used chemical weapons on civilians. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)