Officials in private huddle over Mass. military installations

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BOSTON >> Gov. Charlie Baker, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, state lawmakers and other state officials met Tuesday morning with representatives from the federal government and various branches of the military to discuss the status of the state's military installations.

The Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, created by executive order signed by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray while Gov. Deval Patrick was out of state in 2012, met for about an hour at the State House. The meeting was not on the governor's schedule.

"The purpose of the meeting was to really bring everybody up to speed on the activities that have been going on and how we're working to help promote and strengthen all of our military installations in the commonwealth," Marty Jones, CEO of MassDevelopment, told the News Service after leaving the meeting, which was not an open meeting.

Asked whether the meeting was in preparation of a potential new base realignment and closure (BRAC) effort, Jones said the task force has been working to bring down operating costs at the bases regardless of a round of BRAC hearings.

"Everybody worries about BRAC, so it's something we're certainly aware of and thinking about," she said. "If we can do some things to help the installations be more efficient — we've worked on some energy efficiency improvements, we're doing some other things through the military task force — that's going to help them whether or not there is a BRAC and it will be a positive to have reduced operating costs if and when a BRAC happens."

Asked by reporters about the meeting, Baker said the task force gathers "every couple of months," and said he was running late to his next event. Ash declined to comment as he left the meeting.

Massachusetts has six military installations — Hanscom Air Force Base, Natick Soldier Systems Center, Joint Base Cape Cod, Fort Devens, Westover Air Force Reserve Base and Barnes Air National Guard Base — totaling a roughly $13 billion economic impact, Jones said.

"They're throughout the commonwealth and a fairly significant impact for the economy," she said. "That's the other reason the governor and Secretary Ash are very engaged in this work, because there's a major economic impact to these installations."


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