by Samantha Allen/Wicked Local Lexington

Local, state and federal leaders are working vigorously in anticipation of a possible Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process that could threaten the future of Hanscom Air Force Base and other military bases throughout the country. Their mission? To ensure Hanscom remains open and thriving as a vital economic engine for the region.

But with major cuts in U.S. military spending now and in the future, lawmakers are preparing for every contingency.

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-5th, said the government must consider the best way to scale back a Department of Defense (DoD) budget that has roughly doubled in the past 10 years.

In January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years. Panetta has also recommended Congress authorize two additional rounds of BRAC in 2013 and 2015. Hanscom survived the last BRAC process in 2005, — the fifth and most comprehensive BRAC since 1988 — which resulted in 190 base closures and realignments across the country, according to the BRAC Commission website.

If there is another BRAC, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said any cuts must be made thoughtfully.

“We’re clearly in a financial emergency,” Brown said. “We can find efficiencies but, especially in Massachusetts, we need to do it wisely so … we [don’t] jeopardize our national security.”

Lexington Selectman Deborah Mauger — the Lexington board’s liaison to the Hanscom Area Towns Selectmen (HATS), which includes representative from Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln — said she remains optimistic a strong coalition will be able to successfully advocate for Hanscom’s future.

“We are coordinating as a group at all levels of government to make sure we have a strategy in place,” Mauger said.

Read more: Coalition looks to protect future of Hanscom Air Force Base – Lexington, MA – Lexington Minuteman http://www.wickedlocal.com/lexington/news/x760608316/Coalition-looks-to-protect-future-of-Hanscom-Air-Force-Base#ixzz1rfE9iZq7