Wednesday, April 06, 2016

NGA West Comment

A public comment period is underway to allow for input to NGA Director Robert Cardillo as to the decision to locate the NGA West headquarters in North St. Louis, as opposed to the Scott AFB site. I took a few minutes to put in my two cents worth. I encourage anyone else who has thoughts on the subject to do the same. You may do so here-

Dear Mr. Cardillo; and others who may consider this comment,

Like many of my fellow southwestern Illinois residents, I was aghast at the announcement that North St. Louis was chosen as the preferred site for the new NGA West. Much of the media speculation prior to the announcement seemed to favor Scott AFB; and with plenty of good reason. Most who have lived in the St. Louis area for decades realize the enormous difference in what North St. Louis offers, or does not offer, as opposed to the area near Scott. Our trust was that someone who is making such a generational decision about the security of the United States, and the world, would be compelled to make the logical choice. When deciding between the security of a military installation and a blighted, crime-troubled urban setting for a critical intelligence agency mission one would choose to believe the intelligent choice would win the day. It appears not.

In reading some of the reasons given for choosing North St. Louis, it appears superficial environmental considerations and the provision of financial support to a re-development initiative in North St. Louis carried the day; instead of proximity to those most benefited by mission-critical information. The technical and security considerations put forth by the Illinois site supporters seemed to have little bearing on the initial preference. Why is that? We are not led to believe that pumping money into a run-down area of a big city is what NGA is all about. I don't pretend to think that politics didn't play a role in this decision. But in a perfect world it should not; especially not for a mission as important as that of the NGA. 

Please take another serious look at the benefits of locating at Scott. The nearby cities and counties offer high-quality universities which will produce many potential high-tech workers. And NGA may still draw upon the higher-education pool of the Missouri side. There would also then be no need to uproot a number of families who have called North St. Louis home for generations. If the commute time of the current workforce to a new location in Illinois was a factor, should it be? If so, those who make such a commute, such as the Missourians who work at our Belleville, IL campus of Lindenwood University, would tell you the commute is a breeze. At Scott there would be no need to be concerned about the security, personal and professional, of your workforce. And, more importantly, there would be the benefit of daily, personal interaction with those who most need and utilize the information produced by the NGA; the airmen, airwomen, and civilian workers based there.

I have no reason to argue for or against either location, other than the fact that my children and grandchildren will benefit from the information the NGA produces long after I am gone from this earth. I would like to believe they will live in a more secure world as a result of choosing the most effective location for NGA West. The Scott AFB location just makes the most military-mission sense; on the surface and in total. Changing the initial preference to Scott on the final decision seems unlikely, but it is the right thing to do. I'm hoping the fortitude and commitment to mission is there to do so. Thank you.

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