More than 300 jobs will be coming to Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, over the next two years as part of two new cyber-protection squadrons, according to state Rep. Bill Enyart.
Enyart, D-Belleville, said the two cyber-protection squadrons "will come with a $16 million investment in the base's existing infrastructure."
Scott and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, were chosen from seven finalist bases for the cyber mission.
"The Air Force realizes what we already know," Enyart said. "Scott Air Force Base has mission synergy, adequate facilities, and low security risk. And this is a cost-effective location which will benefit national security at maximum return for the taxpayers."
Enyart said he received a call Wednesday from Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Kathleen Ferguson, detailing the cyber-protection mission. The positions will be filled over the next two years.
"This is a direct message from the Air Force about Scott's critical role in cyber security," Enyart said. "As a 35-year member of the military, I can tell you that this addition is a huge win for Scott and our region."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said the squadron's arrival will boost the region.
"These new squadrons give Scott Air Force Base a leading role in supporting the Air Force's cybersecurity operations, which are critically important to our national security efforts," Durbin said. "As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, I am always proud to see Illinois' defense installations play such an important and dynamic part of our nation's defense."
Durbin said he was notified of the decision by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, who joined Durbin earlier this year for a visit to Scott.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, said: "When Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Welsh visited Scott Air Force Base this past March, I asked him to look to Scott as the future for the Air Force's cyber needs and to take full advantage of Scott's world-class service members and infrastructure. Today's announcement by the Air Force represents another step in protecting and strengthening the missions at Scott, the largest employer in Southwest Illinois."
Enyart said the military's cyber-protection mission is to operate and defend Department of Defense information networks, which consists of five elements: vulnerability mitigation, mission protection, defensive counter cyber communications, penetration testing and compliance.
Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois executive director Ellen Kroehne said the news is the latest example of Scott's vital role in the military.
"We couldn't be happier with this announcement," Kroehne said. "We look forward to preparing for those additions to our Scott family. We're very excited for this new and continuing growth at Scott."
Durbin's Defense Appropriations Subcommittee oversees funding for the military and intelligence community, the nation's national security requirements and the daily needs of more than 2 million active-duty and reserve servicemembers. All told, the subcommittee controls more than half of the nation's annual discretionary budget.
Enyart serves on the House Armed Services Committee and House Agriculture Committee. Before he was elected to Congress in 2013, Enyart served as commander of the Illinois National Guard.