Lt. Gov. Murray Moves to Protect State's Military Bases
Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray signed an executive order Monday to help protect military bases in Massachusetts, including Hanscom AFB, from budget cuts and closures.
Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray today signed an executive order establishing the Commonwealth’s Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force to protect and promote military bases across the state, including Hanscom Air Force Base.
This announcement comes a month after the U.S. Department of Defense announced a plan to reduce federal defense spending by about $500 billion over the next decade as a result of federal deficit reduction negotiations, according to Murray's announcement. The Pentagon has also requested Congress authorize a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to recommend closure or consolidation of select military bases across the country.
“Massachusetts’ defense and aerospace industries generate more than 120,000 jobs, fueling local and regional economies across the Commonwealth,” said Murray in a press release. “In working with our congressional delegation and this formalized Task Force, Massachusetts is ready to fight for the jobs and missions at our military base facilities which provide significant value to our economy as well as our national defense strategy.”
Formation of the task force, which will reportedly work toward completing a strategic plan, comes a few weeks into Murray’s tour of the state’s military bases, which began Feb. 3 at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. He intends to visit Hanscom, although those plans have not been formalized.
In the Feb. 27 press release announcing the task force, several federal lawmakers from Massachusetts sounded off in favor of protecting the state’s military bases. Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas mentioned Hanscom directly.
“I am partnering with my colleagues in the Massachusetts delegation and will be working with the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force to highlight the vital importance of Hanscom Air Force Base as well as other installations in the Commonwealth which play critical roles in protecting our service men and women,” Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat, said in the press release.“The missions at our military facilities are supported by the universities and innovative high-tech companies that are unique to Massachusetts and the presence of these institutions has helped the military confront current threats and prepare for future ones.”
Defense of Hanscom could be especially important in light of recent reports of deep cuts of funding for contract workers and government jobs at the base, which is nestled in the middle of Lexington, Concord, Bedford and Lincoln.
Cost-cutting measures and a separate change in the base’s military status could affect more than 1,000 contractors and spell the loss of nearly 380 government positions, according to a Globe story last week that cited Air Force documents and officials.
Last time Hanscom came under fire during the BRAC process, local, state and federal officials banded together in defense of the base, a charge reportedly led by people like then Gov. Mitt Romney, Sen. Ted Kennedy and state Sen. Susan Fargo.
Today, Romney’s running for president, Scott Brown holds the U.S. Senate seat that belonged to the late Kennedy and Fargo has announced plans to retire after her current term.
That’s led some lawmakers and political watchers to say Hanscom could play an important role in the race to replace Fargo.
In recent weeks, several local and state officials have told Patch they’re eager for the deveopment of some kind of comprehensive plan to support Hanscom AFB, saying the ramifications go well beyond the base and would impact surrounding communities and industry.