Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Metro East Hopes to Add Cyber Command to Scott Portfolio

Since my move to St. Louis' Metro East area, I've been involved with the Leadership Council Southwest Illinois, the economic development organization for Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties. Its mission is to attract and retain jobs, stimulate capital investment, and promote the economic development of Southwestern Illinois by building effective partnerships with leaders in business, industry, government, education and labor.

The Leadership Council was instrumental during the last round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) to efforts to retain Scott Air Force Base. Today, the Leadership Council is hoping to add a new eagle to Scott's aerie: the Cyber Command. Cyber Command would be responsible for all service cyberspace operations; its main mission would be to prevent the breakdown of systems used to make military and combat decisions. The 24th Air Force Cyber Command falls under the Air Force's Space Command and is expected to have a $1 billion budget with a payroll of up to $45 million.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello from Belleville joined U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin from Springfield in urging Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley to put Scott at the top of his list of potential sites. That list currently also includes: Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado; Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana; Lackland Air Force Base in Texas; Langley Air Force Base in Virginia; and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

In a letter to Secretary Donley, Rep. Costello emphasized several reasons why Scott AFB should be the premier location under consideration:
  • Scott's commitment to the "Future Total Force" concept, pulling together all the various services on the base;
  • The base's central location in the country;
  • The presence of a technologically savvy workforce in the local area;
  • Great community support from groups like the Leadership Council Southwest Illinois; and
  • The high quality of school districts in the area.

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