CARBONDALE – With a major mission at the Rock Island Arsenal under threat, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is recruiting Congressmen to help keep Illinois military bases open and active in the Quad Cities and across the state.
Simon sent letters to 10 U.S. Representatives from Illinois on Friday inviting them to join the new House Defense Communities Caucus in Washington D.C. before any more Illinois bases are closed or consolidated. The latest threat is to the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center at the Rock Island Arsenal, which the Army Materiel Command is reportedly considering for closure.
“The health and wealth of many communities in Illinois hinge on the future of our military bases,” Simon said. “We must use every tool at our disposal to keep our installations active and to make sure the voices of our troops, their families and defense communities are heard.”
As Lt. Governor, Simon serves as the chairperson of the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee. One of the committee’s responsibilities is to coordinate communication among local, state and federal officials regarding the future of military bases in the state.
Simon said the Defense Communities Caucus will act as a unified, bipartisan voice for communities nationwide with active, closed or closing military installations. It could help pave the way for partnerships among the private, public and military sectors that could create jobs or save federal tax dollars and help Illinois prepare for and prevent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) or other downsizing.
The Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center in Rock Island is a unique U.S. Army facility which manufactures artillery, armor, small arms, and mobile maintenance kits for use on the front lines. It has produced almost every howitzer in the Army inventory and since 2003 has produced half of all armor for Army tactical wheeled vehicles. Veterans make up more than half of the center’s 1,700-member workforce.
Simon sent letters to members of Congress whose districts include active or inactive military installations: Judy Biggert, Jerry Costello, Danny Davis, Robert Dold, Timothy Johnson, Adam Kinzinger, Donald Manzullo, Robert Schilling, Aaron Schock and Joe Walsh.