WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., met Tuesday with Gen. Mark Welsh, chief of staff of the Air Force over the future of Scott Air Force Base and other Illinois installations.
Durbin – who also serves as vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees discretionary spending for our nation’s military, including bases – said he discussed the long-term future of Illinois’ Air Force installations.
“Illinois has long played an important role in our nation’s defense. I am proud to represent some of our nation’s most critical Air Force defense installations – including Scott Air Force Base, Springfield’s 183rd Fighter Wing, and Peoria’s 182nd Airlift Wing – and the talented servicemen and women who work there,” Durbin said.
Illinois is home to a number of important Air Force installations including: Scott Air Force Base, led by 375th Air Mobility Wing and comprised of a number of major tenants including 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 and Welsh discussed the strong contributions the installations make to Illinois. Last March, at Durbin’s request, Welsh visited Scott Air Force Base to tour Scott’s Air Operations Center and the 126th Air Refueling Wing. Welsh received a firsthand update on the base’s operations and the missions which the base’s various commands are pursuing.
In April, also at Durbin’s request, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James toured the base and met with civic and business leaders from nearby communities to discuss the strong local and regional support for the base. In June, the Air Force announced Scott would soon receive two new cyber-security squadrons. In December, Durbin and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, sent the director of the NGA a letter in support of housing a new NGA facility at Scott Air Force Base.
Durbin and Welsh also discussed the 183rd Fighter Wing’s current operations and capacity for future missions. Springfield’s 183rd Air Guard repairs F-16 jet engines and its Air Operations Group provides Air Force “surge capacity” to help manage complex air campaigns.
Durbin has advocated to the Air Force and the National Guard Bureau Chief that the 183rd is perfectly positioned to take on a new cyber, remotely-piloted aircraft, or intelligence-support mission because of its extra classified operations space.
The subcommittee oversees funding for the military and intelligence community, the nation’s national security requirements and the daily needs of more than 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 budget.