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Lt. Gov. Simon to visit Arsenal on Wednesday 

Quad City Times
May 28, 2012

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon will be in the Quad-Cities on Wednesday to meet with the commander of the Rock Island Arsenal and to reinterate that the region’s congressional delegation is working to preserve the base’s future.

Simon, who chairs a state committee on retention and reuse of military bases, is backing bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. It would require the Army to create a strategic plan for awarding government contracts that would ensure arsenals receive the workload they need to keep workers’ skills sharp between military engagements.

“The Rock Island Arsenal is a valuable national security resource and an economic engine for Illinois,” Simon said in a news release. “Our federal government has a responsibility to protect this resource. Allowing the arsenal to compete for more government contracts could help contain production costs at the national level and keep people employed at the local level during peacetime and times of conflict.”

Simon will meet with Maj. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, the arsenal’s first female commanding general, and other support staff. McQuistion oversees operations on the island and leads a global organization responsible for providing front-line logistics support to combat units. During the visit, they will discuss the importance of the Strategic Workload Act and its value to the arsenal and surrounding community.

For more than a decade, the arsenal has produced weapons, parts and material for use on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, including armor for Humvees that were vulnerable to improvised explosive devices. With the military engagements winding down, lawmakers are seeking ways to maintain a vibrant workload at the arsenal through government and public contracts.

As introduced, the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 would make arsenals around the nation eligible for military contracts from all U.S. Department of Defense agencies, rather than just within the Army. This builds on federal legislation passed last year that allows for unlimited private-public partnerships at arsenals, which could translate to more domestic manufacturing work.