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Hanscom Expansion Rejected

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The fate of the Otis Air National Guard Base remains up in the air as the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) meets this morning. It's the panel's third day of deliberations over the Pentagon's closure list.

Meanwhile, BRAC yesterday rejected a Pentagon proposal to expand Hanscom Air Force Base. The plan would have brought more than 1,100 jobs to the Bedford base from three air force bases in Ohio, Alabama, and Texas.

The idea was to centralize the Air Force's research into new information systems for air and space at Hanscom by building three new buildings and adding more than 600,000 square feet of work space. But BRAC was told by its analysts that most of the jobs coming in wouldn't be research jobs. Instead, they would involve people who develop software for existing computer systems.

The panel's decision, however, leaves Hanscom's research mission intact.

"The BRAC commission confirmed the Defense Department's decision to retain Hanscom Air Force Base as the center for command control technologies that will enable war fighting capabilities well into the future. So, that's the good news," said Chris Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, which has been pushing to expand the base.

But Hanscom will also lose some jobs. The commission approved a move yesterday that would transfer the Air Force Research Lab based at Hanscom to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Congressman Marty Meehan, in whose district part of the base falls, says that the decision won't stop Hanscom's growth, and won't affect its status as the country's preeminent center for military communications and intelligence.

"I think Hanscom is positioned extremely well for expansion in the future... there's little question that with the transformation of our military, with a heavier reliance on development of technologies, particularly those in communications and intelligence, there will be more investments made, not only by the Air Force but all of the services, in these types of technologies," said Meehan.

Meehan also reminded the public that just a few months ago, Massachusetts was at risk of losing more than 30,000 jobs at Hanscom and at the Natick Soldier System Center — jobs that will now be staying.

WBUR's Fred Thys has more.

This program aired on August 26, 2005. The audio for this program is not available.

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Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.