Four-star general: ‘Rock Island Arsenal is a national asset’

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The Rock Island Arsenal welcomed a four-star general Tuesday.

Gen. Dennis L. Via is the 18th Commander of the U.S. Army Material Command (AMC). Basically, the renown general is responsible for overseeing anything a soldier wears, shoots, drives, eats or communicates with; those objects, whether it be armored vehicles or weapons, are produced in abundance at the Rock Island Arsenal.

During his tour of the arsenal, Gen. Via received an inside look at some of the Rock Island Arsenal's current projects.

"Right now they are working on an ambulance for the National Guard,  which has been a very important program in sustaining the workload that they have here," Via said.

According to the Rock Island Arsenal, which is the biggest employer in the Quad Cities, the arsenal employees more than 6,000 people, paying an average salary of $77,000. With recent discussion of potential cuts to the Army's budget, and the ever-looming fear of sequestration, Gen. Via said the fiscal uncertainty is detrimental to organizations like the Rock Island Arsenal.

"When we don't have a predictable budget, it impacts the ability of these organizations to meet their requirements," Via said.

He added, "The conclusion of the wars in the Middle East has decreased our requirements. That's happened across the army and that's happened here in Rock Island as well."

In June, it was announced that the U.S. Army would be providing $110 million in funding for the Rock Island Arsenal.

That boost could retain jobs at the arsenal, despite the conclusion of war in the Middle East.

"There will always be a contingency that we will have to respond to. It's places like this facility that enables our troops to be ready for it and accomplish whatever mission or task that we are given," Via stated.

The general commended the Quad Cities' support of the military, adding, "The Rock Island Arsenal is a special place that serves as a national asset. "

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