By Robert Mills
BEDFORD — The secretary of the Air Force assured Bay State legislators that the core mission of Hanscom Air Force Base will not be changing despite an administrative reorganization and impending cuts to the defense budget.
Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Scott Brown, and Reps. Niki Tsongas, Edward Markey and John Tierney wrote to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley last month to voice concern about administrative changes at the base and to encourage the Air Force to maintain the base’s mission.
Donley wrote a letter and assured the legislators that despite administrative changes meant to streamline the Air Force, the base’s mission will not change.
“Importantly, no core missions performed at Hanscom Air Force Base today are being realigned,” Donley wrote.
Donley cited the cyber warfare and electronics missions of the base in particular.
“I share your view that the capabilities provided by Hanscom AFB are especially important in meeting the growing electronics and cyber warfare challenges,” Donley wrote.
“The Air Force also appreciates the unique technical support organizations in the surrounding region and their criticality to Hanscom AFB’s ability to accomplish its core functions.”
Tsongas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has long lobbied in support of the mission at Hanscom, said the letter is significant.
“It’s a tremendously important outcome for the future of Hanscom,” Tsongas said. “It reflects the continuing importance of Hanscom to the military, and the strong bipartisan support for Hanscom’s mission. It reflects the commitment to keeping the core mission there.”
Kerry, Brown, Tierney and Markey also applauded Donley’s comments.
The legislators have pushed to keep Hanscom from being downsized, pointing out the importance of its cyber warfare and electronics capabilities, and the support the base gets from nearby universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and private firms around the state.
Sen. Brown still voiced concern that the Air Force made administrative changes that leaves a two-star general in charge of the base, instead of a three-star general. Donley also tried to assure the legislators that change would not have a major impact on operations at the base.