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April 6, 2005

Governor Continues to Build Compelling Case for Why All Illinois Military Bases Should Keep Defending our Country

CHICAGO - Continuing to do everything possible to ensure the retention of all Illinois military bases, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signed Executive Order No. 2005-4 directing all State land-use planning agencies to coordinate with Illinois military installations in order to maintain and improve the bases’ immense military value.  When land-use planning is coordinated with these military bases, it can provide key assistance in preserving available land for military readiness.  Demonstrating a keen awareness of this, Gov. Blagojevich issued the executive order to help ensure that Illinois’ military bases distinguish themselves as being highly flexible, prepared and well-equipped to meet the nation’s needs when called upon. 
“Scott Air Force Base, Rock Island Arsenal and the Air National Guard Bases in Peoria and Springfield all play critical roles in protecting our national security interests, while making enormous contributions to our state’s economy.  We owe it to our service men and women, as well as all citizens of this state, to do everything in our power to make sure these bases remain in operation.  The executive order I have signed will help ensure that we are mobilizing our resources and working on a unified front to make the strongest possible case to Washington for why these bases should not only survive but also take on additional missions.  When the Department of Defense comes to Illinois seeking to expand, we stand ready and willing to meet its needs,” Gov. Blagojevich said.   
The executive order is the latest action taken by the Governor in a coordinated campaign he is leading with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, other elected officials and local leaders to prevent Scott Air Force Base, Air National Guard Bases in Peoria and Springfield and the Rock Island Arsenal from ending up on the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list.  These bases contribute more than $2.5 billion to the state’s economy each year and support nearly 70,000 jobs.
Under BRAC, an independent commission evaluates the Pentagon’s closure recommendations and then develops a final list of bases to be closed.  Congress then has the option to approve or reject the list as submitted without changes.  In the past round of closings, approximately 85 percent of bases that were placed on the list were eventually shut down.  The U.S. Department of Defense will announce its BRAC list on May 16, 2005.   
Scott Air Force Base is a major joint command headquarters base located in St. Clair County.  It is home to the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and the Air Mobility Command (AMC).  Scott is also home to the 18th Air Force Headquarters, 375th Airlift Wing, the 932nd Reserve Airlift Wing and the 126th Air National Guard Refueling Wing.  The United States Transportation Command is the largest transportation enterprise in the world.  USTRANSCOM was established in 1987 and is one of nine U.S. unified commands.                                                               
As the single manager of America’s global defense transportation system, USTRANSCOM is tasked with the coordination of people and transportation assets to allow our country to project and sustain forces, whenever, wherever, and for as long as they are needed.  Air Mobility Command (AMC), the air component of USTRANSCOM, is also headquartered at Scott Air Force Base.  AMC has the primary mission for providing all of the armed services airlift, aerial refueling, special air missions and aeromedical evacuation.  AMC also contracts and controls the command contracts for commercial airlifts for the Department of Defense.  Scott is centrally located with excellent facilities that have growth capability.  The construction of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport as a joint-use facility adjacent to the base added a new 10,000-foot runway, a parallel taxiway, and renovated and extended Scott’s runway to 8,000 feet.  In addition, a new state-of-the-art, FAA traffic control tower was added as the last link in the ability to handle more with maximum safety. 
Rock Island Arsenal is a center for logistics and sustainment excellence for the Department of Defense (DOD).  It is the home to four major U.S. Army headquarters organizations that have regional and global responsibilities - ranging from Army munitions management to regional installation management.  The Arsenal also houses more than 50 other DOD organizations and provides infrastructure support to all the organizations on the island.  The Army's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center - Rock Island has the technical expertise and equipment to provide full-service design and prototyping, manufacturing, and testing/simulation for a wide variety of products from rapid response to warfighter requirements for all of the Armed Services.  These state-of-the-art facilities house DOD's only vertically integrated metal manufacturing complex.  The Arsenal is one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturing facilities.  This manufacturing mission has been called on to support short-notice, critical items for soldiers in the field, including armored door kits for Humvees, weapons pedestals and electronic night sights for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
With a 57-year history of diversity in operations, the Peoria Air National Guard Base has demonstrated a pivotal response to joint/multinational requirements, including its current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The unit’s experience and performance in on-going airlift operations, its past experience in fighter operations, and its in-depth expertise in management and control of tactical air assets graphically reflect the reasons for the organization’s successes and the frequent recognition received by its members.  A major thrust of the 182nd Airlift’s mission is to provide world-class training and readiness opportunities, not only for its own members, but for those of other organizations and other service departments as well.  Superior existing facilities, expansion capability, and recruiting and retention history enable the 182nd to easily accommodate support of operations and training for contingency, mobilization and increased future total force requirements.
The Springfield Air National Guard Base provides critical support for its flying military missions, including air to air, air to ground, air support, and search and rescue teams.  The unit also has several other crucial tasks from engineer and communication teams to many other one, two or 20 person teams related to different military support missions, security police and chaplains of several denominations.  This unit also has firefighters with a support agreement where the U.S. Air Force provides 100 percent of the airport’s crash fire protection for both the commercial airport and the air guard.  Homeland defense is also an important part of its portfolio because it serves as a back up for protecting civilian commercial aircraft for Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Indianapolis.  This unit is ready for the next generation of Air Force aircraft because the base has extra ramp space available.


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