Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force Meets with Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno and Natick Soldier Systems Leadership

November 15, 2013

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077 (cell)
Michael Hartigan, Office of Rep. Niki Tsongas, 202-225-3411

NATICK – U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas, Major General L. Scott Rice, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, and Marty Jones the President and CEO of MassDevelopment today along with members of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force welcomed General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the United States Army to the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center to discuss the U.S. Army’s presence in the Commonwealth and to highlight the state’s ongoing efforts to promote and support the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center, Fort Devens, and the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

“We appreciate General Odierno’s visit to Massachusetts as we work in partnership with Army leadership to strengthen and invest in Natick Soldier Systems Center, Fort Devens, and the Massachusetts National Guard’s sites.” said Governor Patrick. “Our military bases offer incredible assets, fuel our economy and are an important piece of our national security.”

The Chief of Staff of the Army General Odierno serves as the senior uniformed Army officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of the U.S. Army. General Odierno fills a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army. In this role General Odierno serves as the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is, in a separate capacity, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and thereby a military advisor to the National Security Council, the Secretary of Defense, and the President of the United States.

General Odierno is in Massachusetts for a two-day visit to MIT, Harvard, and the Natick Soldier Systems Center. During a tour of the base General Odierno was briefed by top Army and Natick officials on the base’s mission and as they showcase displays and demonstrations of the critical work being carried out here in Massachusetts. General Odierno was invited to Natick by Governor Patrick and Congresswoman Tsongas, the only member of Massachusetts’ Congressional delegation serving on an Armed Services Committee.

“Massachusetts continues investing in and marshaling some of the best minds and resources in the world, which provides unmatched benefits to our Armed Forces. Combined with the highly skilled workforce, strong military tradition and top-tier educational institutions unique to this region, we are positioned to continue growing as a hub of innovation. I discussed visiting Natick with General Odierno because it is important for military leaders to see firsthand the remarkable work being done here. Natick is helping develop the next generation of soldier resources, such as lightweight and gender-specific body armor, and by doing so are keeping soldiers safe and successful around the world. We are grateful that General Odierno was willing to take the time to see it for himself.” – Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-3)

The Natick Soldier Systems Center is the only active duty research installation in New England and one of only two in the country. The Natick Soldier Systems Center works to provide U.S. soldiers with the best equipment in the world, serving as the Army’s one-stop soldier-support organization responsible for researching, developing, fielding and managing food, clothing, shelters, airdrop systems and soldier support items. A 2011 report by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute showed that the Natick Soldier Systems Center has 14,504 direct or indirect jobs and an annual economic impact to the Massachusetts economy of $4.41 billion.

Fort Devens supports civilians and military personnel from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, National Guard, FBI, and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Among its multiple missions, the Base Camp Integration Lab (BCIL), a unique mission that replicates combat zones 8,000 miles away in Iraq and Afghanistan, opened at Fort Devens in 2011. In addition to this training experience, BCIL partners with the Natick Soldier Systems Center as military and civilian personnel in Natick develop technology and soldiers at BCIL then test the technology. The same University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute report showed that Fort Devens has 3,179 direct or indirect jobs and an annual economic impact to the Massachusetts economy of $396.6 million.

Last year, the Patrick Administration announced $2.5 million in MassWorks and Capital funding, which once construction is complete in 2014, will create infrastructure improvements for Natick Soldier Systems Center, and will also improve the traffic flow along one of Natick’s major roads, Route 27, to allow the road to better accommodate current and future traffic volumes. The Natick project exemplifies the Patrick Administration’s commitment to making strategic investments – including in the state’s high-tech defense industry – that will support long-term growth and job-retention opportunities.

“The research, development, and engineering efforts at the Natick Soldier Systems Center are essential to protect, sustain, and mobilize America’s Soldiers while maximizing their combat effectiveness. We are able to deliver cutting edge technologies by partnering with academia, industry, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Dr. John P. Obusek, Director of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. “I had the pleasure today of hosting General Raymond Odierno, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Governor Deval Patrick (via telephone) and the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force team. The meeting was a great opportunity to highlight the breadth and criticality of our Soldier research efforts coupled with our extensive collaboration across the community. We are enthusiastic about the State’s commitment to our organization and we look forward to increasing the synergy with current partners and to creating additional new partnerships. It is these science and technology partnerships that drive innovation and the delivery of new capabilities for our Soldiers.”

Governor Patrick and Congresswoman Tsongas expressed the Commonwealth’s commitment to the U.S. Army during today’s meeting by highlighting the ongoing work of the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, and illustrating Massachusetts’ competitive business, innovation, education and workforce advantages which together plays a critical role in ensuring we provide the very best services to our servicemembers and field peerless technologies to defend our nation. Together they and other members of the Patrick Administration outlined the work the Military Task Force has done in partnership with Natick and Fort Devens regarding energy efficiency, master planning, veterans’ services and military family support including housing, and mission enhancements.

“The Massachusetts National Guard is honored to provide an effective operational force for over 377 years within the Reserve Component of the total force of Active, Guard and Reserve,” said Major General L. Scott Rice, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard. “Our participation in the Massachusetts Military Asset Security and Strategy Task Force is vital in supporting and growing its mission of fueling innovation for a better future for our Commonwealth, particularly at Natick Soldiers Systems Center with the Army,” said Rice.

“The innovations at Natick exemplify the kind of cutting-edge technology and highly-skilled workforce that we see at all six of the Commonwealth’s bases,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “We appreciate General Odierno taking the time to visit the Commonwealth and welcome him to see just some of what we have to showcase in Massachusetts.”

About the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force
In 2012 Governor Patrick supported the Task Force’s creation to assess each installation’s military assets, infrastructure and growth opportunities. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Governor, Congresswoman Tsongas, and former Senator Cowan. The six military bases include: Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield; Fort Devens; Hanscom Air Force Base; Joint Base Cape Cod; Natick Soldier Systems Center; and Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. These installations account for a total economic impact of $14.2 billion and over 46,500 jobs for the Massachusetts economy.

To learn more about the Task Force, please visit: