Amid rumblings in Congress, Illinois’ Cheri Bustos says no BRAC is underway for Rock Island Arsenal

The Rock Island Arsenal isn’t a target for potential closure, congressional leaders say, despite calls to reassess military bases around the country. 

The chair of a budget-writing defense subcommittee, Minnesota lawmaker Rep. Betty McCollum, has voiced her support for evaluating military bases and identifying unneeded space, a process called Base Realignment and Closure.

The acronym BRAC “strikes fear into the hearts of Quad-Citians,” Scott County Supervisor Tony Knobbe told fellow supervisors in a public meeting last week. In a 2005 round, the Pentagon recommended closing the 301-person Defense Finance and Accounting Service at the Rock Island Arsenal, but the Island kept a separate department that had been recommended for closure and gained another.

The threat of BRAC comes with the possibility, however slight, of closures at the Rock Island Arsenal, which is one of the top Quad-Cities employers at 6,300 people, coming behind just John Deere.

But Rep. Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat representing Rock Island County, said Quad-Citians need not worry.

“Let me be clear: There is no Base Realignment and Closure process underway,” Bustos said in a prepared statement. “In fact, the Arsenal’s role in our nation’s defense network is growing.”

Likewise, Scott Lohman, president of the Rock Island Arsenal Defense Alliance, a chamber-affiliated nonprofit, said the alliance was not expecting a BRAC request this year, but “there are changing political dynamics on Capitol Hill that may open up a debate on BRAC in the coming years, and we will do whatever it takes to be prepared.”

Bustos, also a member of the House Appropriations Committee and subcommittee on defense, pointed to an additional $70 million in federal funding invested this year in the Arsenal for research, development, and manufacturing, including large-scale 3D printing.

“I’ve spent a decade fighting for the Quad-Cities, and on my watch, the Arsenal remains well-positioned to help lead in the defense of our nation and for our allies,” Bustos said. 

Rock Island Arsenal spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Commands at the Rock Island Arsenal include the Army Sustainment Command, First Army, Joint Munitions Command, and Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, among others. 

Said Lohman: “The Rock Island Arsenal Defense Alliance continually fosters relationships and identifies opportunities to best position the region to have a positive outcome if a BRAC process is undertaken.” 

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May 31, 2022 at 05:01PM

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