SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, IL (KTVI)-- Scott Air Force Base and Southwestern Illinois Defense Assests Retention and Expansion Task Force has hired consultants to fight off attacks on several fronts. They'll be trying to prevent SAFB from being shut down in the next round of base closures in 2015.
But they're also trying to fight any cuts that could be coming very soon, as the Pentagon faces billions in automatic budget cuts.
The next base realignment and closure commission, called BRAC, will probably start work in two years. SAFB barely dodged the bullet last time in 2005. So these consultants, led by retired Air Force General Duncan McNabb and former congressman Jerry Costello, will try to see that SAFB is not eliminated, but is expanded. But they face a much more immediate battle for SAFB's future.
Automatic budget cuts made necessary by congress being unable to agree started on October first. The program, called sequestration, mandates that $53 billion be hacked from the Pentagon's budget this year.
How much is that in cuts? It would be the equivalent of closing 17 Scott Air Force Bases, just this year. So the consultant team will have its hands full immediately, trying to make sure that the Metro East's largest employer remains intact years before any BRAC base closure decisions are made.
The vast majority of the money to pay them will be raised privately throughout southwestern Illinois. Scott Air Force Base is estimated to generate $3 billion per year for the regional economy.