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Griffiss AFB, NY

Griffiss AFB was recommended for closure or realignment by the 1993 Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission. After consideration by the President and Congress realignment of Griffiss AFB occurred on 30 September 1995. Griffiss AFB is located in Rome, Oneida County, New York. It consists of 3,552 acres. Missions at Griffiss AFB have included fighter interceptors, electronic research, installation, and support activities, aerial refueling, and bombers.

Reserve intelligence personnel from all three services train with state-of-the-art equipment and systems as the result of the opening in 1998 of the Joint Reserve Intelligence Facility at the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate. The 1,500-square-foot facility, co-located with the Information Directorate's Information and Intelligence Exploitation Division, houses servers and workstations linking it to intelligence production centers worldwide. It allows Air Force, Army and Navy Reservists in upstate New York the opportunity to work alongside their active duty counterparts as an integral part of the intelligence community and the national defense team. The JRIF is the home to two Naval Reserve Intelligence Area Seventeen Units, DIA Headquarters Unit 0705 and ONI 1805, both of which conducted drills in Buffalo until August 1998. Also co-located are the Army Reserve's 3424th Military Intelligence Detachment, elements of the New York National Guard's 642nd Military Intelligence Battalion, and a detachment of the Air Force Reserve intelligence analysts in the JRIF.

On 3 April 1941, the War Department began looking for an area to construct an Air Depot in central New York. Orders to begin construction came from the War Department on 23 June 1941. By 1 February 1942, Rome Air Depot was activated and had the mission of storage, maintenance, and shipment of equipment to units throughout the United States and the European and African theaters of operation. Rome Air Depot went through numerous name changes and redesignations between 1942 and 1948. Rome Air Depot was renamed in September 1948 in honor of Lt. Col. Townsend E. Griffiss of Buffalo, N.Y., an Army Air Corps pilot who died in an aircraft accident in England in 1942 -- the first US airman to lose his life in the European Theater during World War II.

In May 1959, the 465th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was assigned to Griffiss with F-89 Scorpion all-weather fighters. Late the next year, the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron assumed operational control over the 465th and became a major tenant at Griffiss. The 49th operated F-101 Voodoos until late 1968, when it was re-equipped with F-106 Delta Darts. The 49th was the last operational unit to fly the F-106s, prior to being deactivated July 1, 1987.

Also in 1959, the 4039th Strategic Wing of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) was activated as a base tenant, equipped with B-52 Stratofortress bombers and KC-135 Stratotankers. In February 1963, that unit was deactivated and the 416th Bombardment Wing was activated in its place. The 416th BMW assumed host responsibilities for Griffiss in July 1970.

Responsible for monitoring the skies above 500,000 square miles of the Northeast, the Northeast Region Operations Control Center (ROCC) of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) gained full operational status at Griffiss in October 1983. The headquarters of the 24th Air Division, formerly located at Hancock Field, Syracuse, was relocated to Griffiss the following month. The ROCC was redesignated the Sector Operations Control Center (SOCC), the operational component of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), in 1986. The 24th Air Division was inactivated in September 1990.

The 416 Bomb Wing came under the Air Combat Command (ACC) and Rome Laboratory became part of the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) in 1992.

The Information Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory is located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York. The Information Directorate was previously know as Rome Laboratory. The name was changed as part of the Air Force's consolidation of its four research laboratories into a single Air Force Research Laboratory in 1997. Rome Laboratory was the AFMC laboratory specializing in the development of technologies for command, control, communications and intelligence systems. The facility's focus remains the development of AF command and control systems, advanced computers and microchips, communication devices and techniques, software engineering, intelligence gathering and processing devices, surveillance systems, advanced radars, super conductivity, infrared sensors, cryogenics, artificial intelligence applications, and related technologies.

Griffiss Business & Technology Park traces its heritage to Griffiss Air Force Base, which was activated in February 1942 as the Rome Air Depot. The depot's initial responsibilities involved storage, maintenance and shipment of equipment for the Air Logistics Command. Rome Air Depot was renamed in September 1948 in honor of Lt. Col. Townsend E. Griffiss of Buffalo, N.Y., an Army Air Corps pilot who died in an aircraft accident in England in 1942 -- the first U.S. airman to lose his life in the European Theater during World War II.

Although Rome Laboratory, or Rome Air Development Center (RADC) as it existed then, officially began at Griffiss Air Force Base, New York, on 12 June 1951, its origins extend back to an earlier time. In December 1917, the United States Army Signal Corps, responding to the demands of the First World War, broke ground for a "Radio Laboratory" at what is now Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. The Signal Corps wanted "a special laboratory devoted exclusively to developmental work, and entirely independent of the commercial lab oratories". Within a few months, the laboratory was testing recently developed vacuum tubes and radio sets and experimenting with radio direction-finding techniques.

The end of the First World War brought declining budgets and personnel cuts, but the Radio Laboratory survived. In 1929, the Signal Corps consolidated all its electronics laboratories at Fort Monmouth and renamed them the Signal Corps Laboratories. Despite austere budgets and meager manning, important research took place. Subsequent events would show how important, for out of the Signal Corps Laboratories came not only radio sets like the Walkie-Talkie but radars and radar technology that proved crucial during the Second World War.

World War placed enormous demands on electronics, and the Signal Corps Laboratories expanded to meet the need. Between 1940 and 1941, three new laboratories joined the laboratory complex in the Fort Monmouth area: the Camp Coles S ignal Laboratory, the Eatontown Signal Laboratory, and the Evans Signal Laboratory. December 1942 found 14,518 military and civilian personnel working at the Fort Monmouth area laboratories.

Beginning in 1945, with the end of the Second World War in sight, that number began to decline. Simultaneously, plans to reorganize the Signal Corps Laboratories in light of lessons learned during the War got under way. A consensus held that air forces had specific electronics needs and that research and development ought to reflect them. On 1 February 1945, therefore, Eatontown Laboratory was renamed Watson Laboratories and transferred to the Army Air Corp. Named after Lieutenant Colonel Paul Watson, who had headed the team that built the Signal Corps' first long-distance radar, Watson La boratories was to research and develop ground electronic equipment for the Air Corps. Besides facilities at Fort Monmouth, Watson Laboratories had two field stations: the Florida Field Station, Clermont, Florida, and the Cambridge Field Station, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

With the establishment of a separate United States Air Force in 1947, efforts began to move Watson Laboratories to Griffiss Air Force Base, where the Air Force intended to set up a center for electronics research and development. The then Air Materiel Command, which had responsibility for Air Force research and development, wanted to consolidate Watson Laboratories with three other Air Force electronics organizations: the 3135th Electronics Squadron, Middletown, Pennsylvania; the Cambridge Field Station, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and laboratories of the Electronic Subdivision, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Along with the advantages of consolidation, the Air Force hoped to exploit what Griffiss had to offer. The base sat in a region known for its electronics industry, the cities of Utica, Syracuse, and Schenectady boasting major electronics manufacturing capabilities. Nearby Cornell, Rochester, and Syracuse Universities offered graduate degrees in electrical engineering and related fields, and Rome, New York, where Griffiss stood, lay along major transportation routes. Finally, relatively isolated and uninhabited hills in the region provided the silence and space needed for various kinds of electronics testing.

Despite what seemed like a good plan, the Air Force managed to realize only part of it. States losing facilities fought to keep them. The upshot was that the Wright-Patterson and Cambridge units remained in place while those in Middletown and Fort Monmouth moved to Griffiss. Personnel from Middletown began arriving at Griffiss in 1948. However, congress had to approve the transfer of Watson Laboratory personnel, and this didn't occur until 26 September 1950. Watson Laboratory personnel started moving to Griffiss in November of that year. By 14 February 1951, all the transfers that were to go to Griffiss as part of the Watson Laboratories relocation had taken place. All told some 400 Watson personnel settled in the Rome, New York area. They became the core of the some 800 civilian personnel assigned to Rome Air Development Center (RADC), the Air Force's new electronics center and forerunner of Rome Laboratory. Of the 100 military personnel assigned, 60 were officers. About 300 of the civilians and nearly all the officers had degrees in either engineering or science.

Meanwhile, the Cold War had made military matters, especially military research, a national priority. 1949 had witnessed the Soviet Union explode an atomic bomb and the communists seize power in China. On 25 June 1950, communist North Korea invaded South Korea, precipitating the Korean War. As the reality of prolonged conflict with the Soviet Union sank in, political and military leaders searched for ways short of mobilization to meet the challenge. Technology, particularly advanced kinds of technology, became the key element in the emerging strategy. In 1949, as plans for putting an electronics development center at Griffiss were taking shape, a group of scientists headed by Dr. Louis N. Ridenour and a team of military experts from Air University recommended creating a separate command to oversee Air Force research and development efforts. On 2 April 1951, that recommendation took concrete form with the establishment of Air Research and Development Command (ARDC). Rome Laboratory, (then RADC) became one of nine "Centers" reporting to ARDC.

In 1951, the Rome Air Depot became the Rome Air Force Specialized Depot, responsible for ground communication and electronics.

The base sat in a region known for its electronics industry, the cities of Utica, Syracuse, and Schenectady boasting major electronics manufacturing capabilities. Nearby Cornell, Rochester, and Syracuse Universities offered graduate degrees in electrical engineering and related fields, and Rome, New York, where Griffiss stood, lay along major transportation routes. Finally, relatively isolated and uninhabited hills in the region provided the silence and space needed for various kinds of electronics testing.

In June 1958, the headquarters of the Ground Electronics Engineering Installation Agency (GEEIA) was formed to engineer and install ground communications equipment throughout the world. GEEIA assumed host responsibilities for Griffiss Jan. 1, 1968. In late 1958, the Rome Air Specialized Depot was redesignated the Rome Air Materiel Area (ROAMA), with the responsibility of managing Air Force communications support programs. In 1964, ROAMA was selected for a phase-out, which was completed three years later.

Early in 1970, GEEIA merged with the Air Force Communications Command (AFCC) to form a single organization, the Northern Communications Area (NCA). NCA was replaced by the Continental Communications Division (CCD), a division of AFCC, June 1, 1981, and deactivated Dec. 31, 1985.

During the four decades of the Cold War, Rome Laboratory became renowned for its electronic systems. On 12 August 1960, Rome Laboratory scientists transmitted radio signals fr om Trinidad, the British West Indies, to Floyd, New York, via the Echo I satellite. The Air Force proclaimed the feat "the first international overseas radio signal sent by such a communications satellite." Radar tended to garner the greatest publicity because of its association with well known air defense systems like the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE), and the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS). Other radar research concentrated on improving Moving Target Indicator (MTI) and ElectronicCounter Countermeasures (ECCM) systems, and the development of phased array and lookdown radars. Installed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, the AN/FPS-85 was the world's first long-range phased array radar. Standing more than 13 stories high and stretching more than a city block long, the radar entered the service of Aerospace Defense Command (ADC) in 1968. Rome Laboratory developed the AN/FPS-85 with Bendix Corporation.

Less publicized but equally important programs aimed to improve Air Force communications. High Frequency (HF)and troposcatter radios benefitted from Rome Laboratory research, and in 1960 Rome Laboratory helped usher in the beginnings of satellite communications in a series of tests involving the Echo I passive communications satellite. At the same time, Rome Laboratory publications on electronic reliability set standards for the electronics industry, and Rome Laboratory language translating machines and data storage and retrieval systems secured niches in national intelligence organizations.

In 1976, the Air Force, using portions of the Cambridge Research Laboratories, established a Rome Laboratory detachment at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Called the Deputy for Electronic Technology, it was to evolve into Rome Laboratory's Directorates for electromagnetics and solid state sciences at Hanscom.

These developments paralleled the military's growing reliance on electronic communicati ons to control widely deployed forces, a capability called Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I). Military planners came to see C3I as the brain and nervous system of the modern military establishment, allowing it to act on a global scale yet as a single entity. By the late 1970s, Rome Laboratory had become the Air Force's "center of excellence" for C3I.

Since Rome Laboratory's research relied primarily on electronics and related technologies, applications often extended beyond the military. During the 1960s, for example, New York State and loca l governments used Rome Laboratory special color analysis techniques to measure water quality and map pollution. On another occasion, the United States Geological Survey analyzed information on the earth's environment with a Rome Laboratory film projector. Other technology entered the wider economy. Rome Laboratory radars and radomes, for example, went into service at commercial airports, and Rome Laboratory microwave radiation detection techniques helped hospitals ensure microwave equipment operated safely. Rome Laboratory pattern recognition technology produced, in industry hands, new ways for analyzing abnormal conditions of the human eye. More recently, Rome Laboratory platinum silicide infrared cameras, speech enhancement units, and manufacturing techniques for indium phosphide and heavy metal fluoride glass technology have transferred to the commercial sector.

Advances in C3I technology put electronics in even greater demand. Revolution may be too strong a term , but it comes close to describing the significance of advances that took place in the technology. Transistors, integrated circuits, lasers, and communications satellites obliterated distances and made communications reliable and global. An important part of Rome Laboratory's mission was to get these advances into United States C3I systems as rapidly as possible. While the full story of Cold War research and development remains unwritten, it appears the United States and its allies enjoyed a wide lead in C3I technology. Exploiting that advantage became an integral part of national defense strategy, and Rome Laboratory contributed to it.

By the late 1980s, the end of the Cold War was in sight. The Soviet Union, faced with economic collapse, began to loosen its grip on eastern Europe. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall, the symbol of Cold War confrontation, came down. Within months, c ommunism collapsed in eastern Europe. In Asia, the Chinese communists stayed in power but liberalized the economy and opened the country to foreign investment. The economies of China and the so-called Pacific Rim nations took off, achieving some of the highest growth rates in the world. These changes inevitably affected Rome Laboratory.

Another change was Rome Laboratory's growing importance to the economy of Central New York. On Dec. 14, 1990, RADC was renamed Rome Laboratory -- recognizing the long association between the research and development facility and the surrounding community --- as the Air Force realigned 14 laboratories and research centers into four "super" laboratories. By the early 1990s, eleven companies had spunoff from Rome Laboratory, and its contracts with New York companies had reached $131.6 million. The governor has described Rome Laboratory as a "world class facility that brings state-of-the-art technology and highly skilled jobs to Central New York."

In June 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted to realign Griffiss Air Force Base, stripping the base of its active flying mission and establishing Rome Laboratory as a "stand alone" facility on federally retained property. The BRACC also directed that the SOCC be transitioned to the Air National Guard and that the Griffiss runway also be operated by the National Guard to support deployment of the Army's 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y. The following year, the Department of Defense announced that a Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) satellite center would be established at Rome, operating in what was Depot 1 of the original Rome Air Depot and later the headquarters for the 416th Bombardment Wing.

In June 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission again focused on Department of Defense recommendations involving Griffiss. The Commission weighed recommendations for moving Rome Laboratory. Ultimately, the BRACC voted unanimously to leave Rome Laboratory in Rome, New York, noting that if it were moved team expertise would be seriously degraded. BRAC commissioners reaffirmed Rome Laboratory's presence at Griffiss as a "stand alone" facility. They also approved the recommendation to close the Griffiss airfield after completion of a runway extension at Fort Drum. Griffiss completed its 1993 BRACC-ordered realignment on Sept. 30, 1995. At that time, Rome Laboratory, DFAS, and National Guard operations of the SOCC and airfield became the major remaining Department of Defense activities where a base was carved from farm fields in the early days of World War II.

The city of Rome, with a population of about 40,000, is known as the City of American History, capitalizing on geography and events that combined to forge the area's past deeply into the national fabric. on July 4, 1817 ceremonies marked the turning of the first shovel of dirt for the Erie Canal, just west of the present downtown. French canal experts predicted it would take 40 years to build what was the greatest architectural and engineering feat of its time. Americans did it in seven, opening up the continent for immigration and trade. The Erie Canal provided the only water route through the Appalachian Mountains south of the St. Lawrence River. New York City became the nation's premier port as cargo moved from the Midwest to market at one-tenth the cost and one-quarter the time as overland. While material moved east, human cargo and dreams of a new beginning flowed west. The Erie Canal became one of the major routes for pioneers commencing their march across the continent.

With the coming of the railroads, "iron horses" on rails replaced the powerful draft animals along the canal towpath, again taking advantage of the relatively level route through the eastern mountains. Rail and canal transportation allowed Rome to fully participate in the nation's industrial revolution. On May 10, 1851, local businessman Jessie Williams established a simple means for making cheese, thus creating the nation's first cheese factory. Fifteen years later, there were 500 similar factories in the U.S., a number that doubled to 1,000 three years later. From the late 19th century through World War II, an influx of mills earned Rome the title "Copper City" and numerous area firms -- most notably Revere Copper Products and Rome Cable Corp. -- carry on that heritage.

BRAC 2005

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Rome Laboratory by relocating the Sensor Directorate to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, OH, and consolidating it with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Sensor Directorate at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, OH. This recommendation would realign and consolidate portions of the Air Force and Army Research Laboratories to provide greater synergy across technical disciplines and functions. It would do this by consolidating geographically separate units of the Air Force and Army Research Laboratories. This recommendation would enable technical synergy, and would position the Department of the Defense to exploit a center-of-mass of scientific, technical, and acquisition expertise. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 362 jobs (201 direct jobs and 161 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Utica-Rome, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area (0.2 percent).

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:48:49 ZULU