The bipartisan, bi-state delegation that represents the Rock Island Arsenal today announced that the United States Army has allocated $110 million in funding for the Arsenal through the Arsenal Sustainment Initiative, which will help ensure that the Arsenal remains competitive as it bids on additional workload through its partnerships with the private sector.
Today’s announcement was made by the members of the Illinois / Iowa Congressional Delegation: U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Bruce Braley (D-IA-01), and Dave Loebsack (D-IA-02). The funding is made available through a Durbin-authored provision that he included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014.
“The Rock Island Arsenal and its workers not only manufacture equipment that arms and protects our troops, but it is also the engine that drives our region’s economy,” Bustos said. “This critical investment will bolster the Arsenal’s competitiveness and help guarantee a steady workload for years to come. I’ll continue to partner with Senator Durbin and leaders in our bi-state region to ensure the Arsenal and our local economy remain strong in peacetime as well as wartime.”
“As our nation’s military draws down overseas and transitions to peacetime, the Rock Island Arsenal needs critical investments like this to adapt to a changing workload and remain competitive with the private sector,” said Durbin. “The funding announced today will allow the Rock Island Arsenal to more effectively pursue public-private partnerships and make certain the Arsenal remains a powerful economic engine for our state and a leader in supporting the defense of our nation.”
“This Industrial Mobilization Capacity funding will strengthen Rock Island Arsenal and aid in the promotion of public private partnerships – a critical component of ensuring the continuity of the Arsenal’s peacetime workload,” Kirk said. “The Rock Island Arsenal hugely contributes to the Quad Cities economy, and Senators Durbin, Grassley, Harkin and I will continue this bipartisan effort to protect this Illinois facility.”
“Together, these provisions will help maintain the Rock Island Arsenal in the state of readiness that our nation needs,” said Grassley. “The capabilities of the Rock Island Arsenal have proven their value time and again and are a vital backstop in wartime. It’s important to help secure the long-term viability of the Arsenal.”
“As conflicts overseas wind down, Rock Island Arsenal needs to transition to peacetime operations in a way that protects jobs and ensures the long term sustainability of the Arsenal. This funding bridges that gap between urgent wartime operations that the Army assigns to the Arsenal and a future where the Arsenal survives as a competitive enterprise. It also ensures that the Arsenal maintains important manufacturing capacity should our nation have to confront another challenge in wartime,” said Harkin.
“The Rock Island Arsenal is an essential national security asset and a source of good-paying jobs in the Quad Cities region,” Braley said. “These additional resources will allow the Arsenal to continue its storied history of aiding in our nation’s security and sparking economic growth throughout Eastern Iowa.”
“As the only member from Iowa on the House Armed Services Committee, I have fought to expand the number of public-private partnerships the Arsenal can enter into. I am pleased this funding will support these partnerships and help ensure continued economic growth for the Quad Cities and protect the Arsenal’s future as a strategic asset to the Army,” said Loebsack.
The funding announced today was included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Industrial Mobilization Capacity, a fund which helps arsenals keep their work rates competitive. The allocation of IMC funding for Rock Island and other arsenals was based on the Army’s analysis of each facility. This will help Rock Island Arsenal and other arsenals compete more effectively for public-private partnerships and other business to help sustain capacity, cost efficiency and technical competence in peacetime, while preserving the ability to provide an effective and timely response to mobilizations, national defense contingency situations and other emergent requirements.
Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a mark-up for the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. At Durbin’s request, the legislation includes two provisions to help ensure the long-term health of the Rock Island Arsenal:
- Ensuring a Steady, Higher Level Workload: The legislation makes permanent a provision Durbin included last year in Fiscal Year 2014 Defense to require the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at Rock Island Arsenal (and the arsenals in New York and Arkansas). The bill dictates that workload levels should be set to allow the arsenals to maintain critical capabilities and remain healthy, specifically those levels consistent with the Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy Report.
The Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy Report, which has not yet been released, was first proposed by Durbin and U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as part of the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012. The study was authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 which directed the Secretary of Defense to create a strategic plan to ensure arsenals, including Rock Island, receive the workload they need to keep workers’ skills sharp. The Army does this type of systematic planning for some of its components but not for arsenals.
- Putting Arsenals on a Level Playing Field with Other Military Installations: The legislation eliminates the Secretary of the Army’s current authority to close an arsenal if he deems it necessary. This provision puts arsenals on a level playing field with other military installations, and ensures that any change in status can only be made through a standard process.