U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today recognized the 150th anniversary of the Rock Island Arsenal and released the following statement:
"On July 11, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed Rock Island Arsenal's existence into law. One hundred and fifty years later, the Arsenal continues to support our nation's evolving national security needs.
"From Civil War rifle cartridges to Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle up-armor kits, the Arsenal plays a critical role in sustaining America's men and women in uniform. Today the Arsenal's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC) employs over five hundred veterans and is investing in next-generation technology, partnering with industry leaders, and rebuilding used military equipment. These skills, relationships, and workload are key to preserving this unique capability at the Arsenal.
"In the Quad Cities, the Rock Island Arsenal is the region's single largest employer with nearly 8000 civilian and military employees. Generations of Illinoisans and Iowans from both sides of the river know family and friends who have worked at the Arsenal. It is an important component of the region's legacy and economy.
"In 2011, I joined with Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), as well as Congressmen Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17) and David Loebsack (D-IA-2) to preserve the Arsenal's legacy and unique military capability. The Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act included language that removed restrictions and caps on public-private partnerships, key to sustaining work in an era of reduced military budgets.
"This year the bipartisan delegation introduced S. 3054, the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012. This legislation builds on previous bipartisan and bicameral efforts to advance the Arsenal, requiring the Department of Defense to sustain workload at the JMTC.
"Beyond its manufacturing capability, Rock Island Arsenal is home to many of the Army's combat enablers. First Army, responsible for mobilizing our nation's Guard and Reserve units, ensures units are trained and prepared for overseas deployments. Army Sustainment Command and Army Contracting Command supply our men and women in uniform both at home, and overseas.
"For one hundred and fifty years, the Arsenal has played an important role in our nation's security. Its employees have answered our nation's call to service and will continue to do so if called again."