ST. LOUIS – Testifying today before a Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Regional Hearing with other elected and local officials, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich presented Illinois’ detailed and comprehensive analysis refuting the U.S. Department of Defense’s recommendations that would take almost 1,900 jobs from the Rock Island Arsenal, strip the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield of its F-16 aircraft and more than 600 jobs, and eliminate more than 2,000 jobs from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. 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 Illinois’ military bases from ending up on the BRAC list that will be announced in September. He stressed that these actions are a threat to our national and homeland security and are not cost effective.
“We live in very uncertain times, and any actions that would threaten our homeland security would be a grave mistake. Illinois’ military bases are unique facilities whose missions cannot be duplicated, they have tremendous military value and they play critical roles in ensuring the safety and security of our country. This isn’t about protecting jobs – this is about protecting the people of Illinois and our country. The Pentagon certainly isn’t perfect, which is why we are fighting its flawed reasoning,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
In its recommendations released on May 13th, DOD proposed moving almost 1,900 jobs from the Rock Island Arsenal to Michigan, Ohio and several other states. A new facility costing more than $100 million would have to be built in Warren, MI to house some of the Tank and Automotive Command jobs that would be moved from the Arsenal.
“The Pentagon talks about saving money, but relocating thousands of people out of the Rock Island Arsenal, where they are working effectively, would actually cost more than it saves in both the near and long term. This is not to mention that many of the civilians working at the Arsenal will not want to move, and the Army will have to replace them with less experienced people – again hurting military value. The Pentagon should not be wasting precious taxpayer dollars building new facilities when it’s more economical keeping these productive employees working at the Rock Island Arsenal,” Gov. Blagojevich added.
The Pentagon also recommended relocating the Springfield Air National Guard Base’s F-16 aircraft and crews to the 122nd Fighter Wing in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. According to the Illinois National Guard, this recommendation could cost the Springfield base more than 600 jobs – including full-time and part-time positions. About 500 to 600 jobs could remain. This move will cost the Pentagon $10 million.
“One of the top criteria the Pentagon used in its evaluation was military value. But it wants to move the F-16 aircraft and crews from Springfield to Ft. Wayne, even though the Indiana base has a lower military value. The Springfield Air National Guard Base offers unique training opportunities for our military that are second to none and a highly strategic location for homeland security missions for both Illinois and the entire Midwest. Illinois is also home to 11 nuclear power plants that provide 50 percent of our power generation. Further, Illinois has 28 locks and dams on the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio rivers. When I look at a map of where the fighter cover will be if these recommendations are adopted, I can state authoritatively that these vital assets will be at greater risk without the F-16s in Springfield. On top of all that, there are absolutely zero cost savings associated with this ill conceived proposal. Again, using the ground rules laid out by the Pentagon, this decision flies in the face of reason,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Governor also spoke about the Great Lakes Naval Station, which would lose more than 2,000 well-paying positions from a community that simply cannot absorb this job loss. Further, some of these positions are being moved to facilities with a lower military value, again deviating from the BRAC standards.
“The size of the realignment impacting Great Lakes is enormous and unprecedented. It involves consolidating five locations into one medical training center based in San Antonio, Texas. The cost of construction in San Antonio to house these realignments will be $500 million, with the overall cost of the total realignment at an excess of $1 billion. According to the Pentagon’s figures, the anticipated payback for this move will not happen for at least 10 years. This is an extremely risky venture that would never be undertaken by private industry,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
Since the earliest days of his administration, Gov. Blagojevich has relentlessly advocated for the Arsenal’s retention and expansion. Those efforts include:
· To help ensure the state made the strongest case possible from the outset to save the Rock Island Arsenal, Gov. Blagojevich hired a military affairs specialist to help present the Arsenal’s compelling case to the Department of Defense.
· On February 14, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich sent Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin to Washington, DC 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, Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert, Rock Island County Board Chairman James Bohnsack, and Quad Cities Development Group President Thom Hart also were invited on the trip by the Governor and were in attendance.
· On April 11, 2005, Gov. Blagojevich provided $200,000 to the Rock Island Arsenal Development Group to market the Arsenal as a viable business site and attract new tenants to its vacant industrial space, bringing new jobs to the community and major economic investment to the region. The grant funding, which leveraged an additional $200,000 in funding from the state of Iowa, comes as part of the Governor’s ongoing commitment to invest in development at the Arsenal so that it can act as a more dynamic engine of economic growth for the area.
Gov. Blagojevich has also fought for the Springfield ANGB’s retention and expansion. Those efforts include:
· To help ensure the state made the strongest case possible from the outset to save the Springfield Air National Guard Base, Gov. Blagojevich hired a military affairs specialist to help present the base’s compelling case to the Department of Defense.
· On December 2, 2004, Gov. Blagojevich traveled to the Pentagon to meet with Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, the Director of the Air National Guard.
· On December 14, 2004, Gov. Blagojevich sent Administration officials to Washington, DC for an important meeting with Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations Phil Grone, the Pentagon’s point person on base closings. As part of a comprehensive partnership, Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin was also invited on the trip by the Governor and was 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 is leading a joint effort between the State and local community to build the necessary infrastructure to allow homeland defense missions to be effectively located at the base.
· Gov. Blagojevich has led Illinois’ efforts to ensure the men and women at Springfield ANGB enjoy the highest quality of life in the military. These efforts include:
Ø Signing legislation offering in-state tuition benefits to all military members stationed within the state;
Ø Signing legislation increasing the death benefits for soldiers from Illinois killed in Iraq and Afghanistan;
Ø Signing legislation to protect business owners called up for guard duty;
Ø Extending POW/MIA scholarship benefits to the dependents of Guard members;
Ø Offering the National Guard Grant program that provides Guard members with full tuition and fee reimbursement for four years at all State institutions of higher education.
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and many other federal, state and local officials joined Gov. Blagojevich at the hearing.
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 Illinois’ bases and will keep working to let the Commission know that Illinois will assist in any way possible to bring new missions to these bases.
The Commission will publicly release its BRAC report by September 8th and will send it to President Bush. The President has until September 23rd to approve or disapprove the list. The BRAC list must then be sent to Congress by November 7th, who must also approve or disapprove the list.
TESTIMONY FOR BRAC REGIONAL HEARING
Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor, State of Illinois
Monday, June 20, 2005
St. Louis University
Busch Student Center – Multipurpose Room
20 N. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, Missouri 63103
On behalf of the State of Illinois, I would like to extend a thank you to the BRAC Commission for offering us time here today to speak about our military installations. As Governor of Illinois, I know there is nothing more important to the citizens of my State than members of the active duty military, the Illinois National Guard, and the Reserves that both reside in Illinois or are deployed elsewhere.
During my administration, I have done everything possible to both improve the lives of the soldiers, sailors and airmen living in Illinois and to ensure the military value of each of the bases in Illinois is maintained.
These efforts have included:
1) Passing landmark legislation extending line-of-duty compensation to the families of all military members from Illinois. This provides service men and women with the same benefits as policemen and fireman that are killed in the line-of-duty. While this assistance cannot make up for the loss these families have suffered, the average grant of $260,000 provides needed funds to allow families to start over.
2) Passing the Military Family Relief Fund that provides grants to families of Illinois Guard members and active duty soldiers that are called to action as a result of the September 11th attacks. These grants provide assistance for necessities such as food, housing and utilities when a wage earner has temporarily left the civilian workforce. To date, Illinois has distributed more than $3 million in grant funds to more than 5,600 applicants under this program.
3) Passing legislation that allows active duty service members living in Illinois the opportunity to attend public universities at in-state tuition levels.
4) Passing encroachment legislation to protect Scott Air Force Base from development that would threaten its military value.
5) Signing an Executive Order directing all State of Illinois agencies involved in land use planning to take military value concerns into consideration when working on projects near military installations.
This recent record builds upon a long history in Illinois of military- friendly legislation, including offering Illinois Guard members and veterans the opportunity to attend any public university within the State at no cost and giving hiring preference to veterans for State positions.
Illinois’ record of support for both its service members and its bases brings me to the points I want to discuss today regarding the Rock Island Arsenal, the Springfield Air National Guard base and the Great Lakes Naval Station.
These facilities are truly world-class and employ some of the highest caliber and most capable people this State has to offer. These installations also offer a high degree of military capability that are, according to DoD’s figures, significantly higher in most cases than the bases where missions currently housed in Illinois are being sent. This is a theme you will hear repeated often today. In short, these installations and their people are key contributors to national defense and their missions should remain in Illinois.
Beginning with the Rock Island Arsenal, I would like to note that many of the positions that are being moved off the Island – such as Tank and Automotive Command and Human Resources Command - are going to bases with lower military value. Further, DoD’s numbers show that these moves will COST not save money – in this case likely more $150 million in one time costs. Additionally, it is clear that many of the receiving installations for Rock Island’s missions do not have the current capability to absorb these functions. You will hear about these issues in detail from the community and how these moves constitute a “substantial deviation” from the BRAC criteria.
I am extremely concerned that the job loss figures used by the Pentagon for Rock Island are much lower than the actual job losses. The Pentagon estimates a net job loss of approximately 1,500 positions on the Island. However, this figure was based on out dated statistics. The actual job loss will be closer to 1,900. This is an example of the Pentagon’s poor attention to critical data that resulted in flawed recommendations at Rock Island.
As the second largest employer in the Quad Cities region, the Arsenal is important to both Illinois and Iowa. I am sure that Governor Vilsack will be touching on this as well. Recognizing this importance, we have formed a bi-state/bi-partisan commitment to strengthen the Rock Island Arsenal. To advance this goal, Illinois and Iowa have made significant investments at Rock Island through the Arsenal Support Program Initiative. This investment has and will foster the growth of rent paying private industry on the Island, which will lower the government’s ownership cost for the facility. It is a true win-win for both DoD and the community. As Governor of Illinois, I pledge continued support for Rock Island since the success of the Arsenal is key to the success of the region as a whole.
Turing to the Springfield Air National Guard Base, I wish to note that I am very concerned with the Pentagon’s recommendation to realign the fighter mission for numerous reasons.
· First, our F-16s are being moved to a base with lower military value. Such a move is in conflict with the goals of BRAC.
· Second, the Air Force’s own numbers prove that not only will there be no cost savings – ever – from moving the F-16s out of Springfield but that this move will actually COST $10 million. This again is in conflict with the goals BRAC.
· Third, as the Governor of Illinois, perhaps my greatest responsibility is to ensure the security of the State. I believe the loss of the F-16s at Springfield will greatly impede both my ability to secure the State of Illinois and the federal government’s ability to secure the greater Midwest region. Illinois is home to 11 nuclear power plants that provide 50 percent of our power generation. Our neighboring states also have between 1 and 4 nuclear plants each. Further, Illinois is home to 28 locks and dams on the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. When I look at a map of where the fighter cover will be over the Midwest if DoD’s recommendations are adopted, I can state authoritatively that these assets I just mentioned will be a greater risk without the F-16s at Springfield.
Springfield is an ideal location from which to conduct homeland security missions covering a great deal of the Midwest. This region would be left unprotected under the current BRAC recommendations. Both the Springfield community and myself believe this so strongly that we will jointly fund and build a munitions storage site and alert facility at the Springfield base to allow air sovereignty missions to be conducted more effectively from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.
Both myself and the Illinois Adjutant General, sitting behind me today, would have raised these concerns with the Air Force if we were consulted about the realignment of the Springfield base in advance of the recommendation. The failure of the Air Force to conduct such a consultation and seek my concurrence with the realignment is a violation of federal law that cannot be allowed. I intend to raise this issue in federal court if necessary.
The only reason offered by the Air Force for moving the F-16s out of Springfield to Ft. Wayne, Indiana is that the Ft. Wayne unit has a better recruiting record. This simply isn’t the case and is not a valid reason to move the aircraft. As I previously mentioned, Illinois offers a level of benefits to its Guard members that is unmatched anywhere else in the country. This has allowed Illinois to recruit and retain Guard members at a level consistently above 100 percent of its authorized positions. There are no recruiting issues at Springfield and the Air Force’s reference to supposed recruiting shortfalls is a misleading inaccuracy designed only to support an otherwise indefensible recommendation. The only recruiting issue relevant to this recommendation is the fact that the loss of the fighter mission will undoubtedly hurt recruiting efforts for the units that remain at Capital Airport.
Turning our attention to the planned realignments at the Great Lakes Naval Station, I wish to note that DoD’s recommendations will be removing over 2,000 well paid positions from a community that simply cannot absorb this job loss. Further, some of these missions are being moved to facilities with a lower military value, deviating from the BRAC standards. The full impact upon the community from the realignments will be described for you in detail by State Representative Eddie Washington of North Chicago later in this presentation.
The size of the realignment impacting Great Lakes is enormous and unprecedented. It involves consolidating five locations into one medical training center based in San Antonio, Texas. The cost of construction in San Antonio to house these realignments will be $500 million with the overall cost of the total realignment at an excess of $1 billion. According to DoD’s figures, the anticipated payback for this move will not happen for at least 10 years. This is an extremely risky venture that would never be undertaken by private industry. The Commission should consider scaling back this realignment and returning missions to Great Lakes where they are currently being performed effectively.
In closing, I wish to note that we are pleased that DoD recognized the value of Scott Air Force Base and the Peoria Air National Guard base, along with the commitment of both the State and the Congressional Delegation, to do everything possible to provide needed support allowing these bases to succeed now and into the future. I wholly support DoD’s recommendations with regard to those facilities and will do everything necessary to ensure a smooth transfer of the new missions to those facilities.
Thank you again for the opportunity to address the Commission this morning. As you have heard already, and will hear again from both the elected officials and community leaders, we stand ready to support both the missions and the people assigned to our facilities. I also wish to note that we will support all of DoD’s realignment recommendations that comport with the BRAC criteria, as these are likely in the best interests of our nation. No one here today is interested only in benefiting the State of Illinois, we all recognize there are greater national issues at stake. We intend only to use our time to point out that many of the decisions impacting Illinois bases not only hurt military readiness but also do not achieve the cost savings necessary to benefit the nation.
Rod R. Blagojevich
Governor, State of Illinois