News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 29, 2013

Sen. Donnelly visits at Air Guard base

Will report on readiness to senate committee

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Highlighting Indiana’s sizable defense industry, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly met Wednesday with personnel from the Air National Guard base at Terre Haute to discuss their jobs and contributions to national security.

“I wanted to come by and thank our Guard members for the important work they do here, and thank them for saving lives every day,” Donnelly said during his “Serving Those Who Serve” defense jobs tour.

“This is one of our real gems. One of our real money savers,” the senator said of the 181st Intelligence Wing of the Air National Guard, stationed at Hulman Regional Airport.

As a member of the Senate Arms Services Committee, Donnelly said he will report back to committee chairman Carl Levin about the valuable service provided by the base. The 19th Chemical Response Force Packaging unit provides a response to natural and manmade disasters, both for military actions and when requested in civilian scenarios, in a joint organization of Army and Air Guard assets.

For instance, the Air Guard provides a medical team, a search and extraction team and  tactical air support for teams on the ground. The Army provides command control, a decontamination element and a search and extraction team.

“This base in Terre Haute is critically important to our nation’s security,” Donnelly said, noting that National Guard forces are more cost-effective to operate than full-time active military operations.

“The great part about the Guard is that when reviewed, we find here they are delivering services at 33 cents on the dollar compared to the active duty folks. So, the biggest bang for our buck is the Guard,” he said.

And because Indiana is ranked among the largest Guards in the nation, the state receives a substantial economic benefit in employment and career training, he said.

During the final leg of his tour, Donnelly visited defense contractors, a laboratory that trains students for future jobs in the defense industry, and a company with a strong record of hiring members of the Guard, reserves and veterans.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.