Guest view: Visit emphasized value of Scott Air Force Base

March 28, 2014 

Growing up in the area, I am well acquainted with Scott Air Force Base. Though I visit the base often as a senator, I never cease to be impressed with their great work.

Scott is a crucial asset to our nation's defense. In addition to the aircraft flying out of the base, it also houses important IT resources and serves as a crucial logistics center for our armed forces. From beams to bullets, nothing moves without Scott. Scott is also a linchpin in the area's economy -- it employs more people than any company in Illinois south of Interstate 88 and contributes $2.3 billion to the regional economy each year.

As the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that controls defense spending, I work closely with our country's top military leaders. I sing Scott's praises every chance I get. But I wanted to make sure the Air Force fully understood the base's value, so I invited Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to come visit Scott as my guest.

On Friday, I was joined by my colleague Sen. Mark Kirk and a bipartisan delegation in welcoming Welsh.

I wanted Welsh to see firsthand the missions at Scott and hear directly from community members how important the base is to us. Scott enjoys an unparalleled level of support from the surrounding area. During our visit, local elected officials, business leaders and others shared their connections with Scott and reasons why they value the base.

The message was clearly received. Near the end of the day, Welsh admitted he was struggling to name any Air Force base more important than Scott.

Looking to the future, Scott has great potential to grow. I intend to do all I can to help Scott capitalize on the goodwill generated during our visit.

Kirk and I will lead the effort in the Senate. Congressmen Bill Enyart, John Shimkus and Rodney Davis will join the effort in the House to make certain Scott can build on its great record of defending America.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield, is the assistant majority leader, the second highest ranking position in the Senate.

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