With the appointment of a new commander, Natick Soldier Systems Center announced that it would stay under the authority of the U.S. Army, instead of using civilian authority to run the facility. According to the NSSC Public Affairs office, Brigadier General Daniel P. Hughes will be senior mission commander.
The appointment was announced by U.S. Rep. Edward Markey's office Wednesday.
Hughes will simultaneously continue to serve as the deputy commanding general of the research, development and engineering department at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. He will serve primarily in that function, but will make periodic visits to Natick.
The labs had been run on an interim basis by John Obusek, a civilian and retired colonel, following the departure of Brigadier General John McGuiness in September 2012. At that time, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation sent a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh asking the Army to continue the military authority over the base.
Several members of the delegation and Massachusetts Lt. Governor Timothy Murray today praised the decision to keep Natick Soldier Systems Center under Army command, while thanking Obusek for his service.
"By maintaining military leadership at Natick, the Army has reaffirmed the critical role that Natick plays in ensuring the safety of our brave service members," said Markey in a written statement.
According to Lieutenant Governor Murray, the Natick base is one of the "largest employers in the MetroWest region, but its innovative work saves lives and protects our men and women in uniform."
"Following the departure of Brigadier General John McGuiness last year, I was very concerned about the Army's announcement that they would be terminating the General Officer billet at Natick Labs," said Rep. Niki Tsongas. "I commend Secretary John McHugh's appointment of Brigadier General Daniel P. Hughes as it relieves these concerns and demonstrates that the Army understands just how important Natick is to the future of our military."
"NSCC is an example of the important military research that goes on here in the Commonwealth, and I am pleased with the decision to keep it under Army leadership," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a written statement.
Sen. William Cowan said he looked forward to working with the delegation "to ensure that the Center has the resources it needs to operate at the highest level."
Natick Soldier Systems Center is a national security installation designs and tests the technologies for American soldiers. According to Markey's office, it is the only active Army installation in New England.
John Swinconeck can be reached at email@example.com.