Guest View: Why Scott Air Force Base Matters

As the installation and 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, my job is to “Enable Combat Power” by creating the conditions for everyone at Scott Air Force Base to be more successful with their missions. We do this by providing a robust infrastructure; award-winning service; a safe, healthy community; and by providing a productive work environment.

Part of delivering a safe, healthy community involves fostering solid community relationships and an understanding of who we are and what we do — not only for our nation, but also for the communities in which we work and live. As such, it’s only natural that we’d want to share that message with those beyond our gates.

There are three main ideas that citizens outside our gates should know when they hear Scott Air Force Base. First is to understand that the missions we’re supporting at Scott contribute directly to our nation’s objectives for global mobility and transportation and the fight in air, space and cyberspace. Second is a realization that the members of Team Scott genuinely care about their surrounding communities and reciprocate the goodwill we receive through a significant amount of volunteer and charity work in the greater Scott and St. Louis metro communities. And third is the economic impact this base brings to the area.

Missions at Scott

Our communities should know that Scott has an important mission for our national defense. In fact, the History Channel aired a story recently about U.S. Transportation Command’s global logistics/transportation capabilities in their “Modern Marvels” segment. I’m amazed at what they are able to accomplish — by land, sea or air — as they ensure our fighting men and women have what they need, when they need it. We also have incredible men and women with Air Mobility Command who provide the overarching management of the nation’s fleet of air refueling tankers and heavy cargo aircraft that enables our forces to do what they do.

This only the scratches the surface of the many missions represented at Scott. From cyberspace warriors to aeromedical airlift for our wounded warriors to ensuring our defense information systems are robust and reliable, this base has seen a steady increase in growth with both missions and people.

Thanks to our community partners who eloquently articulated to Congress the mission need to keep Scott off the November 2005 Base Realignment and Closure list, Scott has since benefitted from the relocation of several commands and agencies, bringing with them additional manpower and missions. Since then Scott has gone through many changes over the years, in size, infrastructure and mission.

Today, Scott supports not only USTRANSCOM and AMC, but also 18th Air Force, the Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Air Force Global Logistics Support Center, 618th Air and Space Operations Center, Air Force Network Integration Center, Defense Systems Information Agency CONUS, 635th Supply Chain Management Wing, 126th Air Refueling Wing (Guard), 932nd Airlift Wing (Reserve), just to name a few of our 31 tenant units. Together, we make up Team Scott — one team cooperating to Enable Combat Power for our Air Force and our combatant commanders.

Community Goodwill

At Scott, there are 40,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians, contractors, family members and retirees who not only contribute to an incredible workforce for our nation, but they also serve as a volunteer workforce second to none. We literally cannot catalog the millions of hours donated by our folks each year, but we do know that they have a big presence wherever they go in our communities.

Their service is vast in scope and includes people such as Senior Master Sgt. Victor Dorsey, AMC, who heard about a local boy whose toys were stolen at Christmas. The gifts had been donated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the organization was not able to grant another wish, so Sergeant Dorsey organized a toy drive to help make up for the stolen wishes.

And just this past holiday season, there were numerous on-base collections of food and toys that were also donated to area shelters and food pantries. From serving as scout leaders to participating in citywide cleanups to helping with natural disasters, there’s nothing our men and women won’t do to help someone in need. I’ve seen their pocketbooks open up during our annual Combined Federal Campaign and hundreds of thousands of dollars gifted to local, regional and national organizations. I’ve seen their hearts and hands working to relieve suffering or to bring a little more comfort to those around them. I’m proud to serve with them and to be associated with them.

Economic Impact

We recently completed our Economic Impact Analysis for fiscal year 2010 and the total impact amounts to $2.3 billion. Consider that Scott has 15,000 employees — active duty, Guard, Reserve, civilian — with a payroll of $1.3 billion, and you can see how not only the employees, but also their families, contribute to the livelihoods of area businesses, schools, hospitals and more. More than 75 percent of our families live off base, so they’re contributing to the housing markets by buying, selling and renting properties. It might surprise some to know that Scott Air Force Base is identified as the largest employer in Southwest Illinois and the fourth largest employer in the St. Louis metro-east area.

So, whether we’re deploying our folks to Afghanistan or sending humanitarian relief to Haiti; building homes for the less fortunate or serving Meals on Wheels, our men and women represent our nation proudly and honorably. They bring goodwill and an economic boost to the area. These are just some of the reasons why Scott Air Force Base matters, and why all of us should be able to communicate the great things we do here every day to Enable Combat Power.

Col. Michael Hornitschek is commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base.

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