WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., along with U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, today announced Scott Air Force Base as one of six finalists in the relocation of the National Geospacial-Intelligence Agency’s Metro East facility.
“Scott is the ideal location for NGA,” said Enyart. “Scott’s cyber security work combined with the NGA’s natural fit with our military make the base a prime spot for relocation. We will be working closely with NGA in the future to make sure that Scott is well represented during the selection process.”
“Scott is hands-down the best location for the new National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Scott’s central location and its role as the largest employer south of I-80, the presence of critical military missions and its unique ability to provide force protection for a critical national security asset are among the many reasons why I am committed to making sure Scott is considered as the strongest candidate.” Kirk said. “The Illinois delegation and I are determined to advance Scott’s candidacy to host this crucial mission, and I look forward to working with the NGA, local leaders, the Air Force and Army Corps to ensure Illinois remains competitive throughout this discussion.”
The NGA’s current facility is located in St. Louis and has 3,000 employees, 800 of which are residents of the 12th Congressional District in Illinois. Scott Air Force Base is the only finalist located in Illinois, the remaining five finalist locations in Missouri include: Weldon Spring, and four locations in the St. Louis metro area.
The agency provides advanced intelligence information to the military, policy makers, first responders, and more. Information consists of sophisticated imagery, maps, charts, elevation, gravity, and the full spectrum of light, which is utilized in covert operations, military exercises, counterterrorism, and global political crises.
Durbin, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said the Department of Defense has named Scott Air Force Base as a finalist to house a new facility for the NGA, which is now spread across multiple buildings in downtown St. Louis.
The aging buildings require high maintenance costs and do not meet either force protection standards or seismic safety standards, Durbin said. The NGA will continue its current operations at a facility in Arnold, Mo.
“The aging National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency facility in St. Louis can no longer meet the demands of the agency’s critical and technologically advanced operations,” Durbin said. “Today’s announcement confirms the NGA’s commitment to keeping this facility in the region. As one of our nation’s leading defense installations, Scott Air Force Base would be a natural choice to house the work of this critically important agency.”
Funding for environmental analysis of all six candidate sites for the new facility announced today was included in both the Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Appropriations bills. As the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Durbin 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. All told, the Subcommittee controls more than half of the nation’s annual discretionary budget.
In June, Durbin announced two new cyber protection squadrons at Scott Air Force Base. Durbin received a call detailing the new acquisition from Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. Contingent on an environmental analysis completed by July 14, the project development will begin this fall, and the positions will be filled over the next two years.
James joined Durbin and other elected officials at a visit to Scott Air Force Base in April of this year. They toured Scott’s Air Operations Center and the 126th Air Refueling Wing and met with civic and business leaders from nearby communities to discuss the strong local and regional support for the base. Also at Durbin’s invitation, in March, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh visited Scott Air Force Base for a similar tour and series of meetings with officials.