Local Officials Bracing to Defend Hanscom AFB
State and local officials are readying to support Hanscom Air Force Base in the face of a potential Base Realignment and Closure round.
More than half a decade removed from its most brush with the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure process, Hanscom Air Force Base could come under the scrutiny of another BRAC round.
Earlier this month, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray launched a statewide tour of military bases in an effort to build grassroots support across the Commonwealth. On Monday, the Lexington’s Board of Selectmen spoke up for the base in its backyard.
In a letter to Congressman Ed Markey, the selectmen raised concerns about the impact deep cuts at Hanscom, an active base and large employer, would have on the military and economy and called on Markey to work with members of Congress to support the base.
“In particular, we would like to identify a point person for this effort in the Massachusetts delegation and learn more about what Lexington and other Hanscom area town can do as active participants,” the letter reads. “Let’s develop a strategy that will protect the vitality of HAFB and the quality of life of its personnel and those veterans who have served their country for years to come.”
Murray echoed some of those same concerns in statements made during his tour’s Feb. 3 kickoff.
“Through proactive planning, Massachusetts has and will continue to position the state to protect our military bases,” said Murray, chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services. “The Department of Defense has outlined projected budget cuts over the next 10 years that could impact Massachusetts bases. The strong military presence and related defense industry in our Commonwealth are critical to our economy and our residents. The Patrick-Murray Administration will work tirelessly with our federal partners to keep Massachusetts military bases open and their missions intact.”
The lieutenant governor plans to visit at least six of the state’s military bases and Hanscom was on the list released at the outset of the tour, but it’s unclear when that visit would occur.
Months ago, before state Sen. Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, announced her plans to retire after 15 years, she told Patch she felt her experience representing the 3rd Middlesex District could be key to efforts to protect Hanscom during the BRAC process.
Speaking with Patch back in early December, Fargo recalled working with a local coalition and then Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Ted Kennedy to fend of pressure to close the the base during the BRAC round in 2005.
“To keep Hanscom open and vital and vibrant will require experienced people and, so far, I’m the only one with that experience,” she said. “The stakes are very, very high not only for Lincoln, not only for this region, but for the state as a whole. We are beginning to put the pieces together of the coalition that will have to be effective in Washington to keep the base open. A freshman senator would have a hard time playing that role.”
Local officials in Lexington aren't the only ones bracing to defend the Hanscom AFB, which sits in the middle of Lexington, Lincoln, Bedford and Concord.
The Board of Selectmen over in Concord last week sent a letter to Representative Niki Tsongas urging lawmakers to think about how overall cuts to operations at the 66th Air Base Group would negatively affect the military, current and retired personnel and the area beyond the base.
Tell us what you think of Hanscom and its members and how deep cuts could affect the base, the military, Lexington and the region.