Rapid City, SD
It's a major decision for Ellsworth Air Force Base that will bring hundreds of jobs to the base. It's taking on a new role in defending our country against the war on terror.
A few months ago, Ellsworth Air Force Base found out it was one of four being considered for a new global mission. And Monday, officials got the answer they were hoping for.
"I got a confirmation this morning, a call from General Schwartz, Chief of Staff for the Air Force, that Ellsworth has been selected as one of two bases to bed down this new mission," Senator John Thune said.
The mission consists of 280 new personnel who will maintain and fly some high tech, futuristic airplanes.
The airmen will train with the drones in Ellsworth. But once deployed overseas, only a few airmen will accompany them; the men at the controls actually stay in South Dakota.
"It’s basically a mobile, piloted aircraft mission. Reapers, and or Predators, that are currently being used in Iraq and Afghanistan for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. But also they deliver munitions on the battlefield," Thune said.
The personnel will arrive at Ellsworth in January of 2012 and hope to be operational by May. Ellsworth already has the infrastructure to handle the planes and employees. But Thune says that's not the only reason Ellsworth was chosen.
"We had a tremendous amount of support, as we always do, from this community, this area and from this state. I think in some ways that intangible sort of attribute really plays heavily," Thune said.
Ellsworth Task Force member Chris Lien is just one of those people who worked to bring the mission here.
"I think we broke through what I call the white noise and the 28th Bomb Wing and the Air Force financial service has proven themselves to say this is a great platform to add more missions to," Lien said.
Missions that will help keep the base secure as it continues to change with the times.
There are currently 41 missions every day overseas and officials want to increase that to 65, which is why they added the two squadrons. However, that only gets them to 51 daily missions, so there could be room for yet an additional squadron at Ellsworth.