By Richard Roa, ASCFebruary 6, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Not even a winter storm could deter Maj. Gen. Kevin O'Connell, commanding general of U.S. Army Sustainment Command and senior mission commander of Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, from getting to the U.S. capitol to accomplish his assigned mission of meeting with newly elected Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and nine other lawmakers, Feb 3-4.
Due to the thousands of flight delays or cancellations caused by the storm, O'Connell and his staff drove to St. Louis, Missouri in time to catch a flight to Washington, D.C. via Atlanta.
The purpose of the visits, which were directed by the Department of the Army, were to assist Secretary of the Army John McHugh's and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno's efforts to strengthen the strategic partnership between the U.S. Congress and Army senior leaders.
On his first day of Capitol Hill office calls, O'Connell met with four members of the Congressional delegation representing the bi-state Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa. Rock Island Arsenal is located on an island in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois, in the center of the Quad Cities.
In addition to Ernst, O'Connell met with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois. During the meetings, O'Connell discussed the missions performed by ASC and the other commands and organizations based on Rock Island Arsenal. These members of Congress said they will continue their support for the Arsenal.
During his meeting with Ernst, O'Connell presented her with a U.S. Army seal and a congratulatory letter from McHugh to the newly elected senator. O'Connell also invited Ernst to visit Rock Island Arsenal, and was told by Bustos that she and Ernst were considering a joint visit to the installation sometime this year. Ernst, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed sincere gratitude for the Army seal and enthusiastically accepted O'Connell's invitation to visit Rock Island Arsenal.
O'Connell also met with U.S. Reps. Denny Heck of Washington, John Fleming of Louisiana, Renee Elmers of North Carolina, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, and Randy Forbes of Virginia, all of who represent districts that host an ASC site. Cameron Bishop, legislative director for U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia, also met with O'Connell.