Gen. Mark Welsh Visits Scott Air Force Base

At Invitation from Senator Durbin, Air Force Chief of Staff Meets with Base and Community Leaders

[SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE] – U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh today visited Scott Air Force Base with members of Illinois’ Congressional Delegation to discuss Scott’s importance to our nation’s military and meet with leaders of the surrounding community to hear about the strong local support for the base.  Gen. Welsh agreed to visit Scott at the invitation of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees discretionary spending for our nation’s military, including bases.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who serves as the ranking member of the Senate committee which oversees discretionary spending for base construction, U.S. Representatives Bill Enyart (D-IL-12) and Rodney Davis (R-IL-13), and Lieutenant Governor Simon, who chairs the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee, also participated in the visit.


As U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Welsh is the senior uniformed Air Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of 690,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the U.S. and overseas.  He is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


“Scott Air Force Base is a critical asset to our nation’s armed forces and, with its workforce of 12,000 military and civilian personnel, the largest employer in Illinois south of I-88,” Durbin said.  “The employees here have always executed their duties well, even during the high operation tempo of the last twelve years.  I asked Gen. Welsh to visit today so that we could make it clear just how important Scott is not just to our military but to the surrounding communities as well.  The base has a lot of room to grow in the future, and I wanted Gen. Welsh to witness that potential firsthand as the Air Force plans for the long term.  I’m glad he accepted my invitation and that we had the chance to show him all Scott has to offer here today.”


"The United States military does logistics better than any other military on earth thanks in large part to the efforts of our servicemembers here at Scott. I'm pleased General Welsh came here to the heartland to see firsthand the essential work done at Scott," Kirk said.  "Whenever there is a crisis in the world, the servicemen and women at Scott Air Force Base are providing American troops the tools to respond to any situation."


“I’ve spent my first term in office fighting for Scott Air Force Base and the military men and women that serve our country.  Today’s meeting was an opportunity to showcase the base’s significant contributions to our Air Force now, and its capacity to grow and serve our military in the future,” Enyart said.  “Throughout my time in office, I’ll continue to make Scott Air Force Base one of my top priorities.”


“Scott is vital to the economic well-being of southwestern Illinois and the St. Louis region,” Shimkus said.  “We all have one goal – to grow the number of military and other governmental tasks assigned to Scott.  I will work with my Congressional partners and community leaders to that end.”


"We cannot overstate the importance of the long-term viability of Scott Air Force Base to the families and economy in the Metro East,” Davis said.  “The Illinois Congressional Delegation, both Republicans and Democrats, stand ready to work together to promote and defend Scott Air Force Base to keep it strong and open to new missions, including the KC46A Pegasus tanker, for years to come.”


“I appreciate Senator Durbin’s leadership and continued advocacy for our military families and military communities, and I would like to thank him for bringing Gen. Walsh to Scott to see all we have to offer,” Simon said. “We want to be clear that the state and region are 100 percent behind the growth of Scott Air Force Base, and we want to work with the Air Force to bring new missions here.”


During the visit, Gen. Welsh and the elected officials met with Scott leaders to receive a firsthand update on the base’s operations and the missions which the base’s various commands are pursuing.  Scott houses a diverse range of operations, including the U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for all Department of Defense personnel and materiel movement, and the Air Mobility Command, which oversees transportation for the U.S. Air Force.


Gen. Welsh and the members of Congress then met with local mayors, county board chairmen and representatives from the Southwestern Illinois Leadership Council’s Scott Air Force Base Task Force to hear about the community’s support for the base and discuss Scott’s partnerships with local units of government.  In 2013, the St. Louis region won the Abilene Trophy, which recognizes the community which provides the finest support to an Air Mobility Command unit.  For a complete list of the elected officials and community leaders in attendance, please see the attachment.


Durbin chairs the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which 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.  The Subcommittee also oversees funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, including the war in Afghanistan and other military operations worldwide.  All told, the Subcommittee controls more than half of the nation’s annual discretionary budget.