Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today signed an executive order establishing the Commonwealth's Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force. The Task Force, to be chaired by the Lieutenant Governor, will engage state agencies to work directly with stakeholders to develop and implement actions that will support military bases across the Commonwealth.
"I thank the Lieutenant Governor for his leadership working across state agencies and industry organizations to protect the military bases that serve as a vital part of the Massachusetts economy," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Massachusetts has a strong, innovation-based economy and our military presence is supported by world-class education, research and engineering institutions in regions throughout the state. This task force will bring together key resources to promote the strengths of Massachusetts' military."
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.
"Massachusetts' defense and aerospace industries generate more than 120,000 jobs, fueling local and regional economies across the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "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."
Last month, 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.
The creation of the Task Force complements Lieutenant Governor Murray's ongoing tour of the state's military bases, which began with a visit to Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield on February 3. The tour will help unify support for Massachusetts military jobs and investments as the Lieutenant Governor receives overviews and tours of the bases with regional partners and federal, state and local officials. In addition to visiting Barnes, Lieutenant Governor Murray plans to visit Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee in March and Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts Military Reservation / Otis Air National Guard Base on the Cape and Fort Devens in April.
"I am grateful for the leadership position that Lieutenant Governor Murray has taken to preserve the presence of the United States Military in the Commonwealth," said Major General Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. "I am looking forward to working with my colleague, Major General Scott Rice, Commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, to ensure that the Massachusetts National Guard remains in the future as it is today: a strong, ready and relevant force of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen who contribute to the life and vitality of the Commonwealth and the defense or our Nation."
"Lieutenant Governor Murray's new task force is another important example that all hands are on deck to ensure that the mission and workers at Massachusetts military bases aren't hurt due to the fiscal problems facing our nation," said Senator John Kerry. "We have a good story to tell and we're going to tell it, because technologies and equipment conceptualized, researched, developed and manufactured at facilities across our Massachusetts help the military execute its mission at the highest levels."
"We must remember that protecting our military installations in Massachusetts is critical to our national security and to our economy," said Senator Scott Brown. "As I've said before, this is a team fight. We must continue to identify new opportunities in Massachusetts to add new missions, like cyber warfare that meet our nation's most pressing threats. I will continue to work with the congressional delegation and the Lieutenant Governor to realize these important objectives."
"The creation of the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force is an example of how Massachusetts is not just the Bay State -- we are the Brain State," said Congressman Edward Markey. "We have the leading educational institutions and private companies whose innovation is critical to strengthening our national security in the 21st century. I applaud the Patrick-Murray Administration for building this coalition to develop plans for our vital military installations. I look forward to working with the Task Force to ensure that these intellectual and technical assets are protected and continue to support the protection of our nation's defense."
"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," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "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."
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. Lastly, 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.
"I commend Lieutenant Governor Murray for taking the initiative to bring together business, education, government and the community to support the important relationship that Massachusetts has with the defense industry," said Jack Wilson, chairman of the Defense Technology Initiative. "Massachusetts is home to a large number of jobs that directly and indirectly relate to the defense industry and forging this partnership on the community level is critical to the Commonwealth and nation's economic and military security."
"It is important that we expand the mission and operations of our military bases to keep them open and grow jobs," Senate President Therese Murray said. "Our bases are essential to the state's regional economies and our military families. That's why, in 2006, I made sure we invested in homeland security and other high-tech training at the Massachusetts Military Reservation on the Cape and it's why this new Task Force established by the Administration will help improve military programs and facilities across the Commonwealth."
"The Commonwealth's military assets play an important role in the economy of our state and in the defense of our nation," House Speaker Robert DeLeo said. "I look forward to the work of Lieutenant Governor Murray and the Patrick Administration on the Military Asset and Security Task Force."
As Chair of the Task Force, Lieutenant Governor Murray will convene regular meetings and work towards reaching identified goals of the Task Force joined by the following members or their designees: the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security; The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard; the Commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard; the Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development; the Secretary of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development; the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs; the Secretary of the Executive Office of Education; the Secretary of Administration and Finance; the Secretary of the Department of Transportation; the Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority; the Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Services; the President and Chief Executive Officer of MassDevelopment; one member from the Massachusetts State Senate, recommended by the Senate President; and one member from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, recommended by the Speaker of the House.
Since 2007, Lieutenant Governor Murray has led the Governor's Advisory Council on Veterans' Services and the executive order establishing the "Commonwealth's Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force" 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.