U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited the Rock Island Arsenal today, April 3, 2012. The Illinois Democrat sat down in a closed meeting with command staff at the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, or JMTC.
Senator Durbin has been very vocal in his support for the Arsenal, especially in light of the U.S. Department of Defense announcing they need to cut half a trillion dollars from its budget over the next decade.
During a press conference after his meeting this morning, he told the media that the combination of the Arsenal's strong manufacturing base, contracts with private companies, and a bi-state, bi-partisan support group gives it an edge over others when it comes to avoiding cuts.
With the War in Iraq over and the War in Afghanistan winding down, Senator Durbin added that it's vital that the Arsenal branches out into the private sector to keep its jobs safe.
"I think it's important for our national security," said Senator Durbin. "I think it's especially important for the creation of jobs. Almost half of the people who work on that Island are veterans. We want to do everything we can to keep their expertise in place, keeping America safe, and building products for the future."
Senator Durbin says the biggest challenge the Arsenal faces is marketing itself to let not only the Pentagon know, but the entire world know that it can do things that no one else can. That includes securing public-private partnerships, building up its manufacturing skills so they are strong and ready to go for future wars, and continuing to lead the nation in the hard side of defense.