CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich sent letters today to both U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) Chairman Anthony Principi saying that he will not consent to the Department of Defense’s recommendation to move F-16 aircraft from the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield. This action can’t proceed since federal law dictates that the Governor must give his consent for this type of realignment.
“The Department of Defense did not coordinate this recommendation with either my office or the Illinois Adjutant General. This lack of consultation compromises the integrity of the process used to develop the BRAC recommendations and disregards my role as Commander-in-Chief of the Illinois National Guard. Further, pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §18238 and 32 U.S.C. §104(c), my consent is necessary for the actions contemplated by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld with regard to the 183rd Fighter Wing,” Gov. Blagojevich wrote.
Gov. Blagojevich also highlighted a July 1st letter that Chairman Principi sent to Secretary Rumsfeld expressing his concern about the impact realigning Air National Guard facilities would have on homeland and national security.
“The Springfield Air National Guard Base is 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. If these recommendations are adopted, these vital assets and many others will be at greater risk without the F-16s in Springfield. On top of all that, this move will cost the taxpayers $10 million. These are the wrong recommendations, at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons,” Gov. Blagojevich added.
Gov. 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 at a BRAC Regional Hearing last month in St. Louis.
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 consistently has stressed that these actions are a threat to our national and homeland security and are not cost effective.
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.