I write to you today to strongly disagree with your July 1 editorial. As the former Chairman and now Ranking Member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I have been and will continue to be supportive of Scott Air Force Base and the skilled men and women who work there.
Your editorial points to a decision last year to put new air refueling tankers elsewhere. It’s true we did not win that first round but we’re preparing for the next one. But what you did not write about shows a lack of understanding about the future of our Air Force. Last summer, the Air Force announced two new cyber protection squadrons at Scott, which brings more than 300 jobs and $16 million in construction investments. Cybersecurity has emerged as one of the biggest threats we face on a daily basis and Scott is now well positioned to play a leading role in our defense.
During my visit to Scott on Monday, I also received updates on the new Defense Information Systems Agency facility that will allow all of the personnel tasked with providing the information technology services for military bases around the world to be housed under one roof. I supported the funding for that project.
I would also refer the editors to your own reporting about my support for Scott Air Base. As your June 30 article points out, I am working with officials from local government, business and economic development — as well as other members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation — to support St. Clair County’s bid to become the new home of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The article also correctly mentions that I met last week with NGA Director Robert Cardillo in Washington to discuss St. Clair County’s bid.
Sometimes we win, sometimes we fall short. But I will always promote the advantages of Scott Air Force Base and ensure Scott will be in the conversation for the missions needed to sustain the base for years to come.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin