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Visit to Capitol Hill

  • Published
  • By Col. David Almand
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
Next week, Chief Master Marty Anderson (375th Air Mobility Wing command chief) and I will be on Capitol Hill visiting with Congressional leaders from Illinois districts as part of the Wing Commander Capitol Hill Visit Program.

The Air Force Chief of Staff implemented this program in 1998 whereby wing commanders visit Capitol Hill in an effort to build long-term, face-to-face relationships with members of Congress and their staffs and to deliver a consistent Air Force message of priorities and mission requirements.

The engagements are meant to provide insight to Congressional members that would allow them to make informed legislative decisions on Air Force programs, policies, plans and personnel. It helps them understand the roles and missions of our Air Force and needs of the service members and their families. I'll be sure to describe the great work and sacrifices that our civilians, service members, and their families are making to enable combat power, and advocate continued strong Congressional support for all activities and functions that enhance the resiliency of those same people.

This year two outstanding members of the 375th AMW team are joining us for the visit--Staff Sgts. Jeremy Rivera and Anthony Koessl. Rivera is the plans and programs NCOIC for the 375th Logistic Readiness Squadron and ensures the wing has the war ready supplies it needs for effective operations planning and execution. Koessl is a biomedical equipment repair technician with the 375th Medical Support Squadron, and ensures equipment required for our patient movement missions are operational. Both sergeants have deployed numerous times and have brought their frontline skills to improve home-station operations.

To meet with our senators and representatives is a wonderful opportunity and we'll be sharing with them our priorities and strategic plans for the installation.

Our No. 1 quality of life priority is construction of a new fitness facility. Our Air Force has increased its focus on fitness and requires that we provide an adequately sized building that can support dedicated space for organizational fitness training. We know this is very important due to the extreme weather conditions we experience here much of the year.

Our current facility, the James Gym, provides only 45 percent of the authorized fitness space according to Air Force facility requirements. More than half of Scott's patrons seek off-base fitness outlets or even forgo fitness training in some instances. The Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment Design Assistance Team recommended construction of a new 43,000 square foot facility to meet the needs of Team Scott. We know we need more areas for core-training, additional cardio and weight training equipment, as well as dual use courts and space for unit-driven physical fitness activities. Because we're sending combat-ready Airmen to our combatant commanders, this will remain a priority for Scott AFB!

In addition, there are several potential major projects in our future including a new gate at Cardinal Creek, a new Joint Cyber Facility, a new Defense Information Systems Agency facility, a new Visiting Quarters, and a mission planning center for USTRANSCOM.

The new gate at Cardinal Creek will be a commercial and private vehicle access gate that would improve entry protection and security measures and support the development of a proposed new I-64 interchange with the local community and Mid-America airport. We must always be looking ahead to the growth and future needs of the base and this is one of those projects. The benefits for the base and the Greater Scott Community would be significant. This facility would meet the most stringent anti-terrorism and force protection requirements for base entry control points and offer full search capabilities and truck inspection. It will also alleviate traffic congestion currently experienced at existing gates and interchanges around the base, while also allowing for the possibility of further development of the northeast side of the base. We look forward to working with the community for mutual progress on making this plan a reality.

Another large design and construction effort priority is for a new Joint Cyber Facility for the base that would consolidate secure communications for multiple organizations to include U.S. Transportation Command, the Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Network Integration Center and more. Ensuring a safe environment to conduct our cyber operations is a priority not only for us, but for the entire Department of Defense and we must always be ready to meet the demands of not only today's missions, but tomorrow's as well.

A new Defense Information Systems Agency facility on base is needed to support the global needs of DISA. The exponential growth of information technology to meet the DoD mission has resulted in the need for a significant upgrade to the current facility at Scott AFB. The project will replace an inadequate facility to support the growing 21st Century needs in communications and network technology.

With the rapidly expanding mission at Scott AFB, we are currently in the process of designing a new Visiting Quarters to support the base's transient population. The new VQ will replace the aged billeting on Scott Drive, and will provide a modern, 284-room lodging facility that will be the gem of Scott's Showcase Wing.

Another priority is a Mission Planning Center for U.S. Transportation Command. This project would construct a facility for a joint planning center for USTRANSCOM, Air Mobility Command, and the Army's Military Surface Deployment and Distribution elements. This facility is critical to fulfill USTRANSCOM facility requirements and includes all elements of the USTRANSCOM Transformation, to include a collocated cyber operations center, force flow planning center, program management offices, direct mission planning center, medical planning and a communication operations support center.

These are just some of the many important projects happening around the base. As Congress portions out the budget each year, tough and thoughtful decisions are made by Department of Defense leaders that allow the Air Force to carry out its mission of: fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace. We need to be operationally focused in today's environment as well as be prepared for the challenges of the future.

We are careful to be good stewards of our nation's resources, so our priorities must reflect that accountability and responsibility. We look forward to having a rewarding visit with our elected leaders and are happy to share with them the great accomplishments and missions of Scott AFB!