LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MURRAY TOURS HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE; CONVENES MEETING OF NEW TASK FORCE TO UNIFY SUPPORT FOR MILITARY JOBS AND INVESTMENTS
HANSCOM – Monday, March 5, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today toured Hanscom Air Force Base as part of his tour of military bases across the Commonwealth to build grassroots support to protect the missions, jobs and economic investments associated with the bases. Lieutenant Governor Murray was joined on the tour by U.S. Senator John Kerry, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas and Air Force base leaders.
Following the tour, Lieutenant Governor Murray chaired a meeting of the newly created Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, which included a roundtable discussion at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a defense company located near the base. Members of the Task Force were joined by state and local elected officials and representatives from local companies, business associations and community members.
“Through proactive planning, Massachusetts has and will continue to position the state to protect our military bases,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “Massachusetts' strong military presence and related defense industry is critical to our economy and our residents. Through the work of this Task Force, the Patrick-Murray Administration will work tirelessly with our congressional delegation and partners across the state to keep Hanscom Air Force Base, the Electronic Systems Center and all of Massachusetts' military bases open and their missions intact.”
Today’s visit to Hanscom Air Force Base is the second of at least six visits to the state’s military bases. In addition to Hanscom, Lieutenant Governor Murray has toured Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield and plans to tour Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee later this month. In April, Lieutenant Governor Murray plans to tour the Massachusetts Military Reservation / Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick and Fort Devens.
"The reality is, tough budget choices will be made and we've got to be all hands on deck to ensure that the mission and workers at Hanscom aren't hurt in the process," said Senator Kerry. "We've got a good story to tell and we're going to tell it, because technologies and equipment conceptualized, researched, developed and manufactured at facilities across Massachusetts help the military execute its mission at the highest levels. Lieutenant Governor Murray and I want them to know we get it and we know what their work means to our state, country and for national security."
"Massachusetts has the immediate ability to meet our country's national security needs in cyber technology, advanced manufacturing, bio-science and many other critical areas," said U.S. Senator Scott Brown. "I will continue working at the federal level to spotlight the military value in Massachusetts and greater New England."
"Given the military’s increased focus on intelligence gathering capabilities, Hanscom is an ideal site for cyber security research and development, an area in which the Air Force seeks to increase spending while so many cuts are being made elsewhere in their budget," said Congresswoman Tsongas. "The cutting edge capabilities that Hanscom delivers to the Air Force are supported by the universities and innovative high-tech companies that are unique to Massachusetts and the presence of these institutions has helped the Air Force to confront current threats and prepare for future ones in a cost effective manner.”
Last week, Lieutenant Governor Murray signed an executive order establishing the Commonwealth’s Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force. The Task Force, chaired by the Lieutenant Governor, engages state agencies to work directly with stakeholders to develop and implement actions that will support military bases across the Commonwealth. Today’s visit to Hanscom is just one example of the work the Task Force is leading. The Task Force will formally hold its first meeting on Wednesday, March 7.
The executive order builds on the work Lieutenant Governor Murray has led over the last year, including a series of strategy meetings with Administration cabinet secretaries and private sector groups such as the Massachusetts Defense Technology Initiative to gather current data and perspectives about each military base so Massachusetts can better position, promote and protect assets for each base. The Task Force will work towards completing a comprehensive strategic plan in the coming months.
In addition to engaging local and regional support to help promote and protect the state’s military bases, the Task Force will develop, coordinate and implement actions in the areas of workforce training, infrastructure improvements, environmental and utility savings, housing and transportation to support the missions at military bases across the Commonwealth. Additionally, the Task Force will identify steps the state can take to remedy problem areas before preliminary recommendations from the federal government are adopted and missions are implemented. Lieutenant Governor Murray and members of the Task Force will advise the Governor, Executive and Legislative Branch officials regarding the ongoing efforts by the U.S. Department of Defense to close, realign, restructure, streamline, or in any way impact military bases in Massachusetts.
In January, the U.S. Department of Defense announced a plan to reduce federal defense spending by approximately $500 billion over the next decade as a result of federal deficit reduction negotiations. The Department of Defense explained that cuts would be achieved in part by reducing total force numbers and relying on technological advances to build a more streamlined military. The Pentagon also requested that Congress authorize a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to recommend the closure or consolidation of select military bases across the country.
During today’s visit, Lieutenant Governor Murray also highlighted recent initiatives in support of the state’s veterans and defense industry. The Patrick-Murray Administration’s FY 2013 budget proposal includes $11.25 million in increased funding for vital veterans' services, including workforce training. The defense industry and its workforce is also a major part of Massachusetts’ economy with thousands of employees working at the state's military bases and more than $14 billion in defense contracts awarded to Massachusetts firms in 2010.
“Hanscom is a vital source of jobs in the northwest suburbs,” said Representative Cory Atkins. “I am glad that the Administration is focusing on the strength of our military bases in order to keep this irreplaceable sector of our economy alive.”
“As Massachusetts’ economy continues to recover, I cannot stress enough the economic importance of keeping Hanscom Air Force Base open,” said Representative Thomas Stanley. “The base serves as a major contributor to the Massachusetts economy as well as a serious employer, and it is more important than ever to protect it. I am pleased that Lieutenant Governor Murray is visiting Hanscom and I am impressed with his efforts to protect economic investments associated with Hanscom and military bases throughout the Commonwealth.”
Since 2007, Lieutenant Governor Murray has led the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services and today’s announcement tour builds on the Administration’s commitment to the Massachusetts veterans’ community, our regional economies and the state’s defense industry. To learn more about the Patrick-Murray Administration’s commitment to Massachusetts veterans, visit www.mass.gov/veterans.