Senator, DOD leaders discuss future of Scott AFB, other Ill. bases
By MIKE FITZGERALD | Belleville News-Democrat (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 6, 2016
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., isn’t taking any chances with the future of Scott Air Force Base, the metro-east’s biggest employer and a powerful economic engine for the entire region.
Durbin met Thursday with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to discuss once again the long-term future of Scott and other Illinois Air Force installations.
“I am proud to represent some of our nation’s premier Air Force defense installations and the talented servicemen and women who work there,” Durbin said in a statement. “Illinois installations like Scott Air Force Base, Springfield’s 183rd Fighter Wing, and Peoria’s 182nd Airlift Wing have long played an important role in our nation’s defense. It was a pleasure meeting with Secretary James today, and I look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that the Air Force has a long, bright future in Illinois.”
Earlier in the week Durbin met with Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, according to a press announcement.
Illinois is home to important Air Force installations that include Scott led by 375th Air Mobility Wing, and comprised such major tenants including the Transportation Command, the 932nd Airlift Wing and the 126th Air Refueling Wing; the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield; and the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria.
Durbin last met with James to discuss these issues in February 2015. In April 2014, at Durbin’s request, James visited Scott to tour its Air Operations Center and the 126th Air Refueling Wing. James received a firsthand update on the base’s operations and the missions which the base’s various commands are pursuing. In addition to Durbin’s meeting with Welsh earlier this week, Durbin also had met in January with Gabe Camarillo, the newly confirmed assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, in January.
Durbin serves as vice chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the military and intelligence community, the nation’s national security requirements and the daily needs of over two million active duty and reserve service members. The subcommittee also oversees funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, including military operations worldwide. All told, the subcommittee controls more than half of the nation’s annual discretionary defense budget.,
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