MASCOUTAH - Arriving at Mid-America Airport just a short time after the U.S. Department of Defense released its list of military installations recommended for closure or realignment, Gov. Rod Blagojevich gathered with local leaders to deliver the news that Scott Air Force Base will continue its crucial mission of defending our country. Gov. Blagojevich also thanked the military and civilian workers at Scott for their service and dedication and reaffirmed his commitment to helping secure additional missions for the base. The Governor has been leading a coordinated effort for more than two years with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, other elected officials and local leaders to prevent Scott and Illinois’ other bases from ending up on the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list that will be announced in September. Scott Air Force Base contributes more than $1.5 billion to the state’s economy each year and supports nearly 50,000 jobs.
"This is a great day for the entire region because Scott Air Force Base gets to continue doing what it does best - serving our country with distinction. We traveled to Washington numerous times to meet with top Pentagon leaders and highlighted Scott's tremendous military value because we know saving this base is the right decision for the United States. We are also fighting to save Scott for the thousands and thousands of hardworking men and women that are defending our country by coming to work here every day. But this coordinated campaign with the Illinois Congressional delegation, state and local officials isn't over. We must continue presenting our compelling case to the BRAC Commission and the Department of Defense about why Scott must remain open and why it is poised for expansion," Gov. Blagojevich said.
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), U.S. Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL) and U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), along with other state and local officials, joined Gov. Blagojevich at the announcement.
Since the earliest days of his administration, Gov. Blagojevich has relentlessly advocated for Scott’s retention and expansion. Those efforts include:
· To help ensure the state made the strongest case possible from the outset to save Scott, Gov. Blagojevich hired a military affairs specialist to help present Scott’s compelling case to Department of the Defense.
· On July 11, 2003, Gov. Blagojevich supported and signed encroachment legislation to protect Scott from outside development.
· On December 2, 2004, Gov. Blagojevich traveled to the Pentagon to meet with Nelson Gibbs, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations and Environment, the service's chief installations officer, about Scott.
· On February 14, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich sent Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin for an important meeting with Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Phil Grone, the Pentagon’s point person on base closings. As part of a comprehensive partnership, St. Clair County Board Chair Mark Kern and Leadership Council Southwest Illinois Executive Director Jim Pennekamp also were invited on the trip by the Governor and in attendance.
· On April 6, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich 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. The order ensures that when the Department of Defense comes to Illinois seeking to expand, the state stands ready and willing to meet its needs.
· Gov. Blagojevich has worked with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to develop a positive, proactive approach to air quality issues in the Metro East area that could have impacted development at Scott.
Gov. Blagojevich is continuing the strong partnerships that have existed between the State of Illinois, the Congressional Delegation and the local community to preserve and strengthen Scott Air Force Base and will keep working to let the Commission know that Illinois will assist in any way possible to bring new missions to the base.
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.
The BRAC Commission will submit its closure recommendations to the President by September 8th. President Bush has until September 23rd to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety. The President then must submit the list to Congress by November 7th, who must also approve or disapprove the list in its entirety.