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Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Quenneville to Lead Statewide Efforts to Preserve Massachusetts Military Facilities

July 31, 2012 : The Republican, by Ted LaBorde

SOUTH HADLEY – Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald J. Quenneville, a South Hadley native, will lead the state’s efforts to block any reduction and closing of the commonwealth’s six military facilities as the Defense Department moves forward with plans to cut $500 billion in spending over the next 10 years.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who earlier this year created a Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, selected Quenneville, a past state commander of the Air National Guard, to serve as executive director of the task force.

Quenneville joined MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority, as its senior vice president of defense sector initiatives last week. The position pays $90,000 a year.

Quenneville, whose last military assignment was as deputy commander of the 1st Air Force and the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Region in Winnipeg, Canada, in 2007, said he plans to work with state and local officials, military commanders and industry and academic leaders to craft a strategy of success in preserving Massachusetts military units, jobs and defense contracts.

“Each unit provides unique capabilities in support of our national security and are major contributors to the Massachusetts defense economy,” Quenneville said.

He said defense cutbacks may be necessary for the economy but “the state’s job that reductions are not done with a hatchet but with a surgical instrument.”

“We have important contributions to national security especially with the air superiority mission out of Barnes Air National Guard Base and the guard’s 104th Fighter Wing,” said Quenneville. “We have research and development at Hanscom Air Force Base and we want to keep that balance across the Commonwealth.”

Quenneville said the “early stand” launched by the lieutenant governor allows “the task force and everyone involved to work closely with military bases and their host communities.”

The task force was created in February by Murray to coordinate strategy in defense of the state's military facilities that include Hanscom Air Force Base; Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee; Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield; U.S. Army’s Soldier Systems Center in Natick; Fort Devens and the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod.

In February the U.S. Defense Department announced $259 billion in spending cuts proposed over five years nationwide. The cuts could affect the six military bases in the state.

In 2013 Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee is slated to lose 17 jobs. The Air Guard's 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Regional Airport in Westfield stands to be cut by three posts. It could also lose its explosives unit, and, eventually, Westover may lose half of its fleet of 16 C-5 Galaxy cargo jets.

The state’s other bases, including Hanscom, could also face cuts.

Murray said Quenneville’s military and defense experience will “complement our administration's strong commitment to Massachusetts' military bases and defense jobs.”

MassDevelopment is the state’s finance and development agency that works to stimulate economic growth across the state and is a key member of the task force, Murray said.

Last month an analysis of the state’s military presence revealed that the six bases are responsible for more than 45,000 jobs and nearly $14 billion in annual contribution to the state's overall economy. That includes military and civilian jobs as well as contracts for base services and overall defense contracts to Massachusetts companies.

MassDevelopment president Marty Jones said Quenneville’s “depth of experience in the military and in Massachusetts uniquely positions him as a leader in defense sector initiatives, making him a great candidate to head this important task force.”

Quenneville began his military career in 1971, serving eight years in the Air Force before joining the Air Guard. He served in various command positions from squadron pilot to wing commander at Otis Air National Guard base on Cape Cod.

© Copyright 2012 The Republican.