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Otis Air National Guard Base May Acquire Jobs in Intelligence Unit

By Matt Viser
THE BOSTON GLOBE


MILFORD, MASS.

The commander of the Massachusetts Air National Guard is recommending that Otis Air National Guard Base take over an intelligence unit that could add as many as 500 people and offset the jobs that will be lost in two years when the base’s F-15s are moved across the state.

Brigadier General Michael D. Akey told the Boston Globe Monday that he doubts the base will lose personnel under a reconfiguration plan that the National Guard Bureau plans to unveil Dec. 1.

The intelligence unit, which would assimilate data from unmanned Predator aircraft, would include 200 to 500 people, Akey said, and could involve building a new Air National Guard outpost somewhere inside the Interstate 495 area.

Akey’s proposal, which he submitted last week to his superiors, fits into the state’s overall the goal of trying to transform its military force from one that builds and maintains ships and aircraft into one geared toward technology and innovation.

Otis’s future was thrown into doubt by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which recommended earlier this year that all 15 of the F-15s currently stationed at Otis be sent to Barnes Municipal Airport Air Guard Station in Westfield. President Bush approved the commission recommendations last month.

Since that recommendation, Bay State politicians and National Guard officials have been scrambling to replace the 505 jobs associated with the 102d Fighter Wing at Otis. Now, their attention is turning to the National Guard Bureau, which is making its own assessment on the future of Otis and other Guard units in the country.

The aim, Akey said Monday, is to add missions that will help Otis draw on the strengths in the region, much as Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford and the Army’s Soldier Systems Center in Natick have fashioned themselves as bases drawing on research and development.