Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the Air Force to enter a unique research partnership with the University at Buffalo at the Niagara Falls Air Base. Schumer highlighted three key areas of Western New York expertise that would boost the Air Force's mission, while helping to secure Niagara Falls Air Force Base's long-term success in the region.
Specifically, Schumer invited General Norman Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, to meet with him, Lieutenant General Dr. Charles B. Green, Maj. Gen. William N. McCasland, Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, and top researchers and leaders from the University at Buffalo to map out a research partnership between the UB and the Niagara Falls Air Force Base. Schumer highlighted three key areas of expertise in Western New York, from which the Air Force could benefit: improving Medivac technology, developing cutting-edge intelligence and surveillance methods, and bolstering border management. Earlier this year, Senator Schumer helped keep NFARS open in the face of the Department of Defense's base closure plan. Now, Schumer is championing a strategic partnership between NFARS and the University at Buffalo that would keep the base open and further the nation's national security goals.
"A cutting-edge research partnership between top scientists at University at Buffalo and Air Force located at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base is a match made in heaven. This potential partnership can create national centers of research and action that are critical both to Western New York and our national security, so I am urging the Air Force to forge a research partnership with UB that will simultaneously boost the Air Force's mission and secure NFARS's presence in the region for years to come. By keeping jobs in Western New York and furthering crucial areas of research for the U.S. military, this partnership would be a win-win for the Western New York community and the Air Force, which stands to benefit from Buffalo's experts in informatics and systems research and more," Senator Schumer said. "NFARS' proximity to the University at Buffalo, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and the U.S.-Canadian border make this potential partnership a perfect fit. I will work with top Air Force officials and the leaders and researchers at University at Buffalo, so that this partnership can take flight."
"We have been working with Senator Schumer on ways that we can leverage the capabilities of the base and we are eager to explore partnership opportunities with the Air Force. Such a partnership between UB and the Air Force can help strengthen our national defense, and we are truly excited about the opportunities that exist at NFARS," said Alexander Cartwright, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University at Buffalo.
In his letter, Senator Schumer cites three areas of research in which the Air Force would benefit from a partnership with the University at Buffalo. Schumer first proposal is to leverage the University at Buffalo's proximity to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which has developed ground-breaking mass of life and health science industries, to create a Center for Military Medical Evacuation, Normalization, and Triage (CeMMENT) in order to enhance emergency medical care on the battlefield.
Schumer also outlined plans to leverage the cutting-edge computer vision and information fusion research currently being conducted at the University at Buffalo to improve the Air Force's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. The Air Force continues to develop Unmanned Aerial Systems and therefore the raw data collected continues to grow. The variety of data that is captured, from high definition video streams to thermal imagery to audio data, adds to the challenge of developing useful information and producing complete pictures for decision making. The University at Buffalo is a research leader in developing cutting-edge computer vision and information fusion that can help make sense of the exponential growth in ISR data.
Finally, Schumer noted that the Air Force stands to benefit from utilizing NFARS' proximity to the U.S.-Canadian border and the planned CBP station at the base to develop and evaluate border security technologies. The primary objective of this partnership would be to develop and evaluate cutting edge border security technologies, like biometrics, vehicle classification, situation awareness technologies, and more. This partnership would also help train existing security personnel and a new generation of DHS professionals.
This research partnership is part of Senator Schumer's long-term plan to keep NFARS open after he helped it avoid closure last year. Similar research partnerships exist at other bases throughout the country and have played a critical role in helping to keep those bases open throughout the past decade. The base, which is the sole military installation in the region, supports 2,630 jobs in western New York and generates $131 million worth of economic activity for the local economy. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced the construction of a new border patrol station at NFARS, which, along with its proximity to the U.S.-Canadian border, Senator Schumer believes could be a boon to the military's research on border security.
A copy of Schumer's letter to General Schwartz appears below:
Dear General Schwartz,
I write to request that you, along withLieutenant General Dr. Charles B. Green, Maj.Gen. William N. McCasland, and Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, join me and researchers from the University at Buffalo in a meeting to explore potential areas of partnership at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base. As you know, I have been a staunch supporter of the Niagara Falls Air Base and I believe that by joining in a research partnership at the base the Air Force can help further its goals, while also helping to strengthen the relevance and log-term viability of NFARS.
The Air Force currently partners with universities at various bases across the country, including the work with Ohio State at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, to engage in cutting-edge research that helps keep our troops safe and furthers our national interests. The Niagara Falls Air Force Base with its close proximity to institutions of higher education and private sector industries is a prime location for the Air Force's next research hub. Specifically, I believe there are a number of areas where our military needs to continue to expand its research and development that Western New York is already a national leader in.
At this meeting, researchers from the University at Buffalo will present a number of prospective ideas, including a Center for Military Medical Evacuation, Normalization, and Triage (CeMMENT). As you know, one of the critical needs in our military is the ability to perform time-critical, lifesaving medical operations in a coordinated and effective manner. The proposed center will develop a suite of tools that will give commanders decision aids they can rely on to provide quality solutions in operations timelines in the highly dynamic realm of asymmetric warfare, urban warfare, guerrilla warfare and security. The Niagara Air Base is the perfect place to develop this center because it will allow the Department of Defense to utilize research expertise from both the University at Buffalo and the critical mass of life and health science industries being developed at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Another potential area for partnership is in the field of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. As the Air Force continues to develop Unmanned Aerial Systems the tremendous amount of raw data collected continues to grow. In 2009 alone, UAV's flying over Iraq and Afghanistan collected 24-years' worth of video data, and that is only a small piece of the raw data being generated. The variety of data that is captured, from high definition video streams to thermal imagery to audio data, adds to the challenge of deriving actionable information and producing a more complete intelligence picture for decision making. The University at Buffalo is a research leader in developing cutting-edge computer vision and information fusion that can help make sense of the exponential growth in ISR data. By partnering with the University at Buffalo at the Niagara Falls Air Base and working with them to continue to research and develop data fusion systems the Air Force can become better equipped to keep our country safe.
A final potential partnership would include a joint venture between the University at Buffalo, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. This opportunity is a great match for Niagara because it can capitalize on the proximity to the Canadian border and the CBP station currently being planned for the base. The University at Buffalo's Center for Unified Biometrics is currently working on projects that will help keep our borders safe and secure. The primary objective of this partnership would be to develop and evaluate cutting edge border security technologies. These will include biometrics, vehicle classification, non-intrusive vehicular occupant recognition, situation awareness technologies, and distributed sensor fusion and management. Another important objective would be to train existing security personnel and a new generation of DHS professionals. By creating partnership at the Niagara Air Base all parties could work together in a secure environment in an effort to develop tomorrow's border and security techniques and technologies.
While I understand that developing a partnership of this magnitude is a significant and challenging endeavor, I also believe that now is the time to move this process forward. As the Air Force works to modernize and evolve the need for working with research leaders and industry experts is more important than ever. Many of the efforts already underway in western New York could be critical components to the Air Force's future and would undoubtedly help keep our country safe. I urge you and the appropriate staff to join me and leaders from the University at Buffalo in a meeting in the coming weeks to discuss these and other potential partnerships.
I appreciate your attention to this matter, please coordinate this meeting with my staff in Washington D.C.
Charles E. Schumer