Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Talking Drones & Navy Airshow in Brunswick

A US military drone visited 'Brunswick Landing' several years ago.  There have long been rumors that drones might some day be a key part of the operation at the former Navy base in Brunswick, Maine

Report on PeaceWorks/VFP Meeting with MRRA about Upcoming Airshow September 5-6

On July 8 three members of PeaceWorks and Maine Veterans for Peace- VFP (Rosie Tyler Paul, Dan Ellis & Bruce Gagnon) met with three representatives from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA)  – the quasi-government agency empowered to turn the former Brunswick Naval Air Station into “Brunswick Landing: Maine’s Center for Innovation”’.
Meeting with us from the MRRA were Steve Levesque, Executive Director; Marty McMahon, Aviation Services Director; and Ben Sturtevant, Communications Coordinator.
The purpose of the meeting (requested by the peace groups) was to find out more about military/aerospace production either currently underway or planned at Brunswick Landing.  In addition we wished to speak out strongly against the planned Navy Blue Angels airshow scheduled for September 5-6.
Rosie began the meeting asking about the MRRA vision for the “Center for Innovation”.  Levesque outlined their present plan to develop renewable energy, create “Tech Place”, composites, bio-research, conservation areas, and whatever else they can attract including more aerospace/military production.
Levesque said they presently have 72 companies doing business at Brunswick Landing – and acknowledged that two of these companies - Tempus Jets and Maine Tool & Machine currently have some level of military contracts.  He refused to elaborate on what they actually do for the military.
Upon questioning about drone technology being a possibility at Brunswick Landing Levesque stated that they would love to have drone development going on there.  “Our board is not putting blockage on any military project – drones may in the future be developed here,” Levesque said. (He also mentioned that one of the companies now at Brunswick Landing was starting to work on drone technology which could be used for either civilian or military purposes but did not say any more than that.)
The Bangor Daily News has in the past quoted Levesque on this subject of military production:
He added that along with projects that include a tentative $1 billion contract announced by Pratt & Whitney in August to build engines for war planes [in Berwick] for the Department of Defense, “Maine is really starting to show itself in respect to being a good place for the aerospace industry. It’s good for us at Brunswick Landing, but this is great for Maine because there are going to be huge spin-offs in the supply chain. There’s going to be a need for people who do interior work, customization, machine shops. All those folks are going to benefit from having this kind of company here.”
I found nothing while searching the Internet about what military projects Tempus Jets and Maine Tool & Machine are currently doing at Brunswick Landing.  (Tempus Jets has entered a Joint Venture Agreement with the Kingdom of Bahrain which may or may not be of interest.  Tempus Jets operates an expansive aircraft maintenance, modification and interior completion facility in Brunswick.)  An Internet search did though turn up an interesting series of reviews about the company at
Next in the meeting we talked about the upcoming airshow with Rosalie reminding the MRRA representatives that we firmly believe these airshows are ultimately expensive and highly polluting military recruiting gimmicks.  Without hesitation Levesque admitted that “Recruiting was the primary purpose” of the airshows.  “I think you are right.  The Blue Angels are a recruitment tool for the Navy and Marine Corps.  We are OK with recruitment.  Some of us feel we need a strong military to protect your right to protest,” he said.
We asked about the front-page local newspaper photo three years ago where burning napalm was shown being simulated along the flight line during the airshow.  We made the point that this had nothing to do with the “celebration of aviation”’ that he had earlier referred to and was indeed a gross example of war and violence promotion.  Levesque went on to correct us, saying that the photo was misreported in the local newspaper – it was not napalm being simulated but was in fact simulating exploding bombs.
At this point in the meeting Dan asked if either of the other two men in the meeting would comment on this but they both refused after Levesque reminded us that “They both work for me.”
We made the point that airshows are a terrible noise maker that many in the community don’t like. Fundamentally these airshows are terribly polluting – especially bad during this time as we reflect on what our local communities can do to help deal with the coming ravages of climate change.  We reminded the MRRA representatives that the Pentagon is the largest polluter on the planet. 
The meeting concluded with us reminding the MRRA that VFP and PeaceWorks will be organizing a protest during the September 5-6 airshow.


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