It's only just down the road from Farmington that revolutionary technology is taking form.

That's great news for the Navajo Nation, even though that success comes at the hand of one of the most controversial issues affecting America today — the war in Iraq.

With the opening of an expansion of Raytheon's Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, the company is adding more jobs and more wages — 80 jobs and $5 million in compensation to be exact.

People on the Nation should be grateful for the opportunity, not only for the jobs but also for the pride in helping make weapons used to defend our country.

NAPI's $6.8 million, 38,000-square-foot expansion will help in producing more of the Excalibur, one of the military's most wanted missiles. The missile is popular because it lands within 5 meters of a target every time when shot from a canon 40 kilometers out. That means there often are fewer civilian lives lost and less damage to infrastructure in the area.Raytheon plans to produce 150 missiles a month by December.

"It's a steep curve we're on, but we've elected to accelerate the production right here at NAPI," said James Riley, vice president of Raytheon's land combat line. "By doing so, we will reduce the limitations currently placed on our soldiers in Iraq, so they can shoot (the Excalibur) when it's needed, not when it's available."

Though you may not support the Iraq war, we all can take some solace in the fact that we are benefiting because of the jobs that will be created to support the war and our soldiers.


Advertisement

New jobs on the Nation don't come along every day, yet this facility adheres to a Navajo preference hiring policy and is expected to maintain a 90-percent Navajo work force.

Raytheon provides the highest-paying manufacturing jobs on the reservation, said Ben Shelly, Navajo Nation vice president.

When the expansion is complete, the facility south of Farmington will include classrooms, a conference room and administrative offices, as well as extra production pace to assemble missile parts.

We thank Raytheon for contributing to the Nation's economy and we hope the area's contribution to global defense initiatives will help keep our entire country safe.