SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Jerry Whitaker -- Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: December 28, 2004
Governor proposes Soldier Systems Center expansion
NATICK, Mass. -- A proposal to expand the Soldier Systems Center here was announced by Gov. Mitt Romney during a news conference at the Conference Center Dec. 16, held in conjunction with the first visit and tour of the installation for Gen. Benjamin Griffin, Army Materiel Command commanding general.
Romney was joined by Griffin, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Ed Markey at the news conference that focused on the future of the Soldier Systems Center in light of next year's round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
Proposed additions to Bldg. 3 and Bldg. 4 represent an estimated $18 million investment by Massachusetts. They are designed to create an additional 70,000 square feet of new office space; 36,000 square feet of new research and development space; and 4,000 new square feet of modernized conference and meeting rooms.
The plan also includes extra building security and flexible, state-of-the-art technology spaces.
Furthermore, Massachusetts wants to join with the Defense Department to create a Soldier Systems Technology Collaboration Center, a joint venture between the government, technology firms and academia to boost collaboration and innovation for technology development.
"Obviously, this is very much separate from any other process going on in Washington," Romney said. "This is a proposal that we believe enhances Natick, very similar to what we proposed at Hanscom. We believe that if we have a great community partner as we do in the military both here at Natick and as well as at Hanscom, that we want to enhance that partnership, and that's why the legislative and executive branch have come together to make these very bold proposals."
Griffin said he would look at the proposal and respond to it. Although he had never been to Natick, he added that he's benefited from the installation's accomplishments throughout his 34-year career.
"This is clearly a location where the academic community, and the science and technology community, and the research and development community come together and provide tremendous support in the past as well as the future for the military," Griffin said.
Kennedy began the conference by saying he, Romney and Markey have been working in the past months to inform the decision-makers in the Department of Defense that Natick is different from the usual military base.
"When we look down the road as to what are going to be the future needs of the servicemen and women whether it's in the areas of medical survivability, whether in terms of protection of the (warfighter), whether in terms of other kinds of advances in technology, Natick has already made a down payment in those areas and is right at the cutting edge in terms of the future," he said.
Markey added that service members need help and that Natick gives them "that little extra edge." Replacing these facilities would be "almost impossible."
The politicians responded to several questions after their opening statements, all related to BRAC.
Kennedy said he believes the challenge to is convince the commissioners that Natick is unique and contributes immeasurably to the security of service members.
"I personally believe we have an extraordinary case," said Kennedy. "And I believe if you do it and do it correctly, that those who make the ultimate decision will look at it the way we do."
Not a political process, according to Romney, their responsibility is to inform and discuss with military leaders and BRAC commissioners the contributions made by the community, educational institutions, corporations and research entities in support of Natick and Hanscom. Then these installations will not only be retained but grow.
"We will with the governor's proposal today be able to make the case for expansion of Natick Labs in the years ahead," Markey said.
For more information about the Soldier Systems Center, please visit our website at: http://www.natick.army.mil.http://www.natick.army.mil.