In 1995 and 2005, Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford was in the crosshairs of the Pentagon's review of installations across the country to be closed. But each time, the 840-acre Bedford base, known for its electronic warfare systems development work, escaped from being shuttered.
Now Massachusetts officials, the state's Congressional delegation, and executives from the private sector are waging a lobbying campaign to have the air base become the headquarters of the Air Force's new Cyber Command, unveiled last September and charged with devising tamper-proof computer networks. The provisional command is at Barksdale Air Force Base, in Shreveport, La.
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne is expected to decide by year's end where the new command will be permanently based and how many Air Force personnel will be assigned to it.
Sixteen states are vying to attract the command, said Donald Quenneville, a retired Air Force brigadier general and executive director of the Defense Technology Initiative, part of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, which has offices in Waltham.
"We're highlighting, as is the state government, the intellectual capital of Massachusetts - the colleges and universities and research facilities" - that the Hanscom base draws on, Quenneville said.
Next month, Wynne's office will ask for data from states that have air bases that could be the site of the Cyber Command, Quenneville said, adding that in July, this material will be submitted to Wynne. "Pulling together information on Massachusetts and Hanscom will be a collaborative effort."
This undertaking is similar to what was done successfully, in 2005, when a nine-member federal base-closure commission was examining scores of military installations around the country, said Christopher Anderson, president of the high technology council.
"Then, as now, it needs to be shown that the Hanscom base depends on the diverse resources of the Boston area, particularly," he added. Hansom now has 1,325 active-duty personnel, 250 members of the Guard and Reserves, and 1,565 government civilian workers. Lincoln Laboratory also has a contingent of 2,500 people on the base, which has awarded fiscal 2007 contracts totaling $4.3 billion.
"We're excited about having the opportunity again to work with elected local and state officials and others as advocates of the base," said Sara Mattes of Lincoln, chairwoman of the Hanscom Area Towns Selectmen Committee, made up of officials from Bedford, Concord, Lexington, and Lincoln. Three years ago, Mattes was the committee's representative to the Defense Technology Initiative.
The Office of Business Development is spearheading the state government's lobbying campaign. Governor Deval Patrick already has sent a letter to Wynne, promoting Hanscom's capabilities, said Kofi Jones, spokeswoman for the business development office.
"We want to make sure the base is being seriously considered," Jones said.
Air Force officials at Hanscom are not permitted to comment on efforts by others to market the base as the site of the permanent Cyber Command, said Chuck Paone, a Hanscom spokesman.
However, commanding officers may discuss elements of the Cyber Command mission, as Colonel Leslie Blackham did recently in a telephone interview. Blackham is the Electronic Systems Center's chief liaison to the Cyber Command.
The Cyber Command is charged with coming up with systems designed to make the Air Force "dominant in the cyber domain," Blackham said. "We want to be assured that the enemy" won't be able to penetrate Air Force computer networks, she said.
Some of the air base's contractors, such as Waltham-based Raytheon Co. and General Dynamics' C4 Systems division in Needham, are developing systems that also may well contribute to the Cyber Command mission, Blackham said. "We are relied on for procuring systems" relevant to Cyber Command operations, she added.
Hanscom's Cyber Command procurement work is likely to continue even if the base does not land the permanent command center, said Quenneville.
But giving the green light to Hanscom for the command center would go a long way toward protecting the base if another base closure commission is formed, said Quenneville and James P. Regan, vice chairman of the high technology council and chief executive of Dynamics Research Corp., an Andover-based defense contractor.
**NOTICE: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.**