Rock Island Arsenal could see $85M manufacturing investment

The Rock Island Arsenal would receive $85 million for manufacturing investment under a U.S. defense appropriations bill sent to the full House last week by the House Appropriations Committee.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, a member of that powerful committee, told the QCBJ shortly after the panel’s 17-hour negotiating session on Wednesday, June 22, “The Rock Island Arsenal plays a critical role in developing new technologies to keep our nation secure and our servicemembers safe.”

That’s why the $761.681 billion 2023 Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill produced by the panel “will continue to bring significant federal investments to facilities in the Quad-Cities – all while creating jobs and driving economic growth in our region,” Ms. Bustos added. “I’m proud to secure this funding and I look forward to delivering continued results to the Arsenal.”

Included among Arsenal investments in the spending plan is a program the U.S. representative and others in the Quad Cities congressional district developed and promoted: An online available military real estate listing tool designed to market available space on Arsenal Island. The $5 million investment would develop the pilot program, an online management tool for the Army and incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

In addition to Ms. Bustos, the other Illinois QC lawmakers who backed the pilot Multiple Listing Service (MLS) online tool were: U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; Charles Grassley, R-Iowa; Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois; and U.S. Rep. Dave Loesack, D-Iowa. “We recognize that more can be done to ‘market’ existing space available to the Army, other federal agencies, and private partners where appropriate,” the members wrote in a letter of support for the pilot program advanced by the appropriations panel.

“There is not currently an easily searchable tool that can be used for these purposes — there is no ‘’ or Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that the DOD can use to query its billion-plus square feet of inventory to see if a new mission or tenant can be hosted in existing space,” according to the group’s letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army Alex Beehler.

The list of Arsenal-specific discretionary spending that Ms. Bustos’s office highlighted from the spending plan sent to the House includes:

  • $20 million for large-scale additive manufacturing prototyping: The bill would continue to fund programs at the Rock Island Arsenal Center for Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing that develop components such as a jointless hull for the Next Generation Combat Vehicle. The ability to manufacture combat vehicles without joints will increase both manufacturing efficiency and the ability of a vehicle to survive, according to a news release from Ms. Bustos’ office. This represents a $5 million increase over FY2022 funding levels. 
  • $25 million for soft recoil and extended-range artillery systems: The bill would continue to fund the work of the Rock Island-based Mandus Group, which tests soft recoil technology to be used by U.S. Army Humvees. 
  • $15 million for a Manufacturing Center of Excellence joint initiative: The bill would continue to fund an initiative focused on expeditionary additive construction between the University of Arkansas, Applied Research Associates (ARA) and the Army’s Center of Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing that is critical to the Army’s use of autonomous construction technologies. 
  • $20 million for the Quad City Manufacturing Lab: This bill would continue to fund the lab’s work with Temple University to develop personal protective equipment to provide servicemembers with greater, lightweight protection. 

In addition to the funding for the Rock Island Arsenal, the news release highlighted additional priorities the congresswoman said were included in the appropriation committee’s June 22 recommendations:

  • Providing critical security assistance to Ukraine with resources for training, equipment, weapons, supplies and services, salaries and stipends, and intelligence support to the Ukrainian military and national security forces.
  • Protecting U.S. national security, preserving the domestic advanced manufacturing base to support jobs and economic growth, and investing heavily in research and development with funding recommended by the Secretary of Defense.
  • Closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and limiting U.S. involvement in Yemen.
  • Defending democracy and countering China with robust funding to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • Supporting working families by requiring contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage.
  • Confronting the climate crisis with $2.5 billion in investments in clean energy and climate adaptation to protect facilities, readiness, and global security.
  • Addressing violence against women with funding to tackle sexual assault in the military and promote mental health through suicide prevention funds and direct DOD to address extremist ideologies, including white supremacy. The bill includes $479 million to fully implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment. In addition, the bill continues to provide $47 million for the Special Victims’ Counsel program.

Additional defense spending bills making their way through Congress include fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, some $15.1 billion in funding for military construction projects, and a $314.1 billion appropriations bill. 

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