SPRINGFIELD -- The United States is doing the right thing by intervening in Libya but should not send ground troops there, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said Friday. “I support the president’s mission,” Kirk told reporters after he toured the 183rd Fighter Wing’s engine repair facility at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. “But I hope that he follows more rigorously the Colin Powell doctrine.
SPRINGFIELD -- The United States is doing the right thing by intervening in Libya but should not send ground troops there, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said Friday.
“I support the president’s mission,” Kirk told reporters after he toured the 183rd Fighter Wing’s engine repair facility at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. “But I hope that he follows more rigorously the Colin Powell doctrine.
“That’s to have the enemy hit with overwhelming force. To appoint one allied commander. To outline a clear mission which I believe should be the protection of the civilians in Libya by the end of the Gadhafi dictatorship, which I think is the only real way to protect them.”
Kirk rejected the notion that there are al-Qaida sympathizers amongst the rebels trying to bring down Libya’s regime.
“I think much of that information comes out of the Gadhafi dictatorship,” Kirk said. “He has generated a lot of those reports because he knows it’s a hot button with western governments and especially the United States. I think what we have really seen is a spontaneous uprising.”
The senator also favors arming the rebels.
“I think we should help the (rebel) government to win this war,” Kirk said. “We should take our advice from (Civil War) General (William) Sherman. When you’re in a conflict, make it rough, make it violent, so that it is over quickly.”
On the issue of nuclear power in the wake of the disaster in Japan, Kirk said he still favors nuclear power but noted that natural gas is the cheapest form of power right now.
“I think the Congress should not fight the market,” Kirk said. “It should empower the market. It is by far the lowest cost way to provide power to grow America’s economy.”
Kirk thinks there are lessons to be learned from the disaster in Japan, including creating a wider evacuation area around nuclear power plants and separating the pools that store nuclear waste from the reactors themselves. Three plants in Illinois have designs like the plant in Japan, Kirk said.
“The waste pool is actually stored right next to the reactor on its roof. I think that’s probably too close so that if you have a problem in the reactor, if you have a problem in the waste pond, you have a problem in both. I think separating the two is something that nuclear officials should look at,” Kirk said.
Patti Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said the location of the waste ponds is a federal regulatory issue, but that state officials are reviewing the situation in Japan.
“We are actively reviewing everything we have in place related to the nuclear power plants right now. We’re still following it to see what other lessons learned come out of that,” Thompson said.
Page 2 of 2 - Kirk also said that he wants to work with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to bring a new flying mission to the 183rd. He hopes the 183rd can either get a C27-J cargo plane or an unmanned aerial vehicle.
The 183rd has been without a flying mission since 2008, when the base’s fighter jets were removed as a part of the military’s base closure and realignment process.
“A C27-J aircraft that would be able to lift cargo in very rough airfields, if not highways, I think are critical for the emergency response capabilities of the nation,” Kirk said. “Basing them in Springfield, Illinois is basing them in the center of the country. It allows them to get faster to any potential contingency than any other place in America. That’s the argument that I hope Senator Durbin and I will make with the Air National Guard and the Pentagon soon.”
Chris Wetterich can be reached at (217) 788-1523.