Illinois military bases play a vital role in the United States Armed Forces and contribute to the defense of our nation. They also provide important economic benefits to the communities in which they are located. They offer many programs and facilities for the military personnel and their families, such as childcare, schools, gyms, libraries, and recreational activities. Illinois residents should be proud of the contributions made by these bases and the men and women who serve at them.
Military Bases in Illinois
Illinois is home to several military bases that play important roles in the United States Armed Forces. Below is are a few of the Illinois military bases and their history.
Charles M. Price Support Center
In its heyday, this camp was an active base supporting over 5,000 employees, 75 military and federal agencies and was responsible for watching satellite activity of the US Army Aviation and Missile Command. However, by 1995 activity on the base had slowed to a crawl and it was designated for closure by the US Army. This was met with opposition by the surrounding communities who relied on the base for economic purposes. However, in 1997 employment had fallen to under 300 people and the base was closed. In the early 2000’s it was revitalized into a mixed-use facility that included industrial buildings, warehouses offices and residential neighborhoods. The US Army Reserve still operates about 40 acres on the Mississippi River.
Scott Air Force Base
Scott Air Force Base hosts several command and control rudiments that support logistics over air, land and sea. Over 30 commands and tenants call this base home, including US Transportation Command, the Air Force Network Integration Center, the 618th Air and Space Operations Center and the Air Mobility Command. It is also one of only four Air Force Bases to support an Air National Guard Unit (the 126th Air Refueling Wing) and a Reserve Unit (the 932nd Airlift Wing). The Air Mobility Command headquartered here became the oldest major command in the USAF after it was combined with the Military Air Command in 2016. Members of the US Air Force, Reservist, Air National Guard and civilians make up the 13,000 people who work to support the base mission. Scott AFB strives to be the premier mission execution platform by training Airmen with impeccable professional standards born from a culture of integrity, service and excellence.
Rock Island Arsenal
Rock Island Arsenal is the largest military manufacturing facility owned by the Federal Government. It also houses the country’s only active Army foundry. Located on the Mississippi River, it occupies 946 acres on an island between the towns of Davenport and Rock Island. The installation produces a wide range of weaponry including small arms, gun mounts, recoil mechanisms, artillery pieces, fighting vehicles and aircraft weapons sub-systems. RIA is primarily run by 6,000 civilians, however there are about 250 military personnel that call this place home. Several tenants are located here, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Marine Corps Liason office and some Reserve Units. The Navy and Air Force have liaison offices here as well. In addition to producing armaments for the Government, Rock Island Arsenal also houses multiple exhibits and museums such as the Rock Island Arsenal Garrison Museum, the Mississippi River Visitor Center and Memorial Park. These places are open to the public.
Naval Station Great Lakes
Naval Station Great Lakes holds the distinction of being the only Boot Camp for the US Navy in the country. Its located on the shores of Lake Michigan, about one hour north of Chicago. Seamen and Sailors have been training here for more than 90 years, and the base holds a rich history dating back over one hundred years. President Theodore Roosevelt imagined a place where soldiers could receive training on actual ships before going out into open sea. 4,000 active duty service members and their families, 3,000 government employees, 2,000 contractors and over 14,000 recruits and students make up the population of this great Naval training facility. Its mission is to preserve the Naval heritage through professional and personal excellence, ensuring the safety and security of the tenant commands and their families living on base.
Station Calumet Harbor
Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor is based on the south end of Chicago in Calumet Park. They are responsible for an area extending from Chicago, IL down to Gary, IN on Lake Michigan as well as almost 150 miles of the Illinois River System. Station Calumet is the busiest station in the Coast Guard’s 9th District, participating in more than 100 search and rescue operations and 1,000 law enforcement investigations every year. They also assist in major marine events such as the Gary Air and Water Show and the Chicago Air and Water show, which brings in over a million people to the area. 42 active duty members and 31 reserve members have one 45-foot response boat and five 25-foot safe boats at their disposal to keep the area safe from harm.
Chicago Military Academy
This is not a base but it is a school for high school students who are interested in military careers. The school is located in Chicago and is operated by the Chicago Public Schools.