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Letter to Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to request information about military restructuring plans and the possible impact in Massachusetts. Senator Brown also highlighted how Hanscom Air Force Base is uniquely equipped to handle emerging threats to U.S. national security. The letter is as follows:

February 2, 2012

The Honorable Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-1000

Dear Secretary,

I write to request information pertaining to the civilian personnel restructuring plan at Hanscom Air Force Base as well as the Department's request to Congress to authorize two additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) rounds in fiscal year 2013 and 2015. In particular, I hope to gain a better understanding of what, specifically, the Air Force restructuring plan portends for Hanscom's future. Without a doubt, the plan to cut $487 billion from projected military spending over the next decade will require an "everything on the table" approach.

Notwithstanding that approach, I wish to convey the unique, strategic military value Hanscom provides to our national security. Additionally, I want to emphasize the importance of other Massachusetts military installations such as Natick Soldier Systems Lab, Westover Air Reserve Base, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (RFTA), the Massachusetts Military Reservation (including Camp Edwards, Otis Air National Guard Base and Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod), as well Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England in Woods Hole. Each of these installations relies on a unique high-tech talent base.

I applaud the Air Force's efforts to identify billions of dollars in "efficiency" savings, operate more cost-effectively, and conserve valuable taxpayer dollars. However, I have concerns that the restructuring of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio will negatively impact Hanscom's ability to deliver irreplaceable electronic integration capabilities across the entire force.

During a recent visit to the base, I met with Electronic Systems Center Commander Lieutenant General Charles Davis. My meeting with him intensified my appreciation for what Hanscom and its industry partners are prepared to do for our country.

Hanscom is uniquely situated to take the lead--in partnership with world-class high-technology engineers and electronic systems experts from the immediate area--in confronting some of our nation's most pressing cyber threats. Hanscom represents a one-of-a-kind confluence of academic, scientific research, and defense industrial base resources that surround it. In fact, it has the potential to deliver the kinds of ground-breaking technology solutions that a constrained budget environment will require to sustain the world's most capable armed forces.

One of the most serious, emerging national security challenges we currently face is in the area of cyber security. Hanscom, and the unique private resources it can muster from the region, is exceptionally well positioned to generate the innovative solutions necessary to mitigate this extremely sophisticated threat. To understand this, just look to the recent past. Some of the world's most complex information systems currently deployed in the defense of our nation originated from Hanscom. Notable examples include the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS), the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), and the Air and Space Operations Center (AOC). Each of these revolutionized the way the armed forces fight and win our nation's wars.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, I look forward to discussing the specifics of the Air Force's proposed organizational and force structure changes at Hanscom, as well as any plans for additional BRAC rounds that result from Department of Defense-directed budget reductions. Most importantly, I hope to share with you my ideas on how the Air Force can enhance its capabilities by leveraging one-of-a-kind technology assets throughout New England.

Thank you again for your continued leadership and service.

Sincerely,

SCOTT P. BROWN

United States Senator


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