WESTGATE@CRANE Technology Park, (Odon) Indiana — Crane Regional Defense Group (CRDG) hosted the White River Military Coordination Alliance (WRMCA) and Naval Support Activity (NSA), Crane for a special-edition Key Leader Series event Nov. 21 at WestGate Academy. NSA Commander Luis G. Martinez provided the keynote address, briefing the group on installation successes over the past year, as well as current and upcoming projects including projected workforce needs.
The annual “State of the Installation Address” provides an opportunity for NSA Crane to share Team Crane’s strategic goals and any operational changes or proposed construction projects that may impact the organization’s membership and the communities they serve. This public briefing for CRDG has been designed to do the same, with a special focus on opportunities local businesses and leaders may have to connect with their communities in relation to base priorities and upcoming initiatives.
Cmdr. Martinez shared that NSA Crane’s mission is to enable and sustain Sailors and Soldiers through operational and family readiness by providing consistent, standardized, and reliable shore support to tenant partners. By embracing Team Crane’s role to support the warfighter and breaking down traditional “stovepipes” that exist, collaboration increases between base partner commands and their individual missions. NSA Crane believes this is a necessary cultural shift that continues to promote growth and expansion as the technological advances and capabilities evolve.
“We can’t succeed without working together and collaborating within the installation,” said Cmdr. Martinez. “Likewise, Team Crane cannot succeed without our partners outside the fence line. We are stronger together, and it takes a dedicated and cohesive effort by all of us to grow the mission and achieve our goals.”
Cmdr. Martinez’s address included the following key updates about the installation, highlighting strategic goals, a workforce overview, and upcoming opportunities for community collaboration:
● Strategic goals: NSA Crane will continue to focus on community outreach as a pillar of its strategy for 2024, and modernize the installation, including its infrastructure, to support the growing needs (electrical, water/sewer, fiber, etc.). Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane was noted as being more valued and relevant than at any time in its history and is positioned for an abundance of growth opportunities in emerging technology areas, and Crane Army Ammunition Activity (CAAA) continues to ensure that warfighters always have the ammunition they need - when they need it as they look to next year and beyond.
● Future mission growth: NSA Crane will implement a regional engagement strategy to enhance relationships with community support organizations, such as WRMCA, and explore base resilience to reduce risk and further support the mission. NSWC Crane is awaiting the highly anticipated WestGate One facility to support the growing trusted microelectronics and hypersonics efforts, and CAAA is participating in strategic planning processes for modernization to support viability, credibility and longevity.
● Infrastructure and modernization: In 2024, CAAA anticipates more than $58 million of outside funding for modernization efforts including rail and magazine repairs, and new facilities to support their employees. For NSWC, a new radiation test facility was completed in 2023 and should be ready for testing early 2024, and three more facilities (Missile Technology Evaluation, Strategic Systems Engineering, Composites Engineering Innovation) will break ground in 2024. NSA, in partnership with NAVFAC, will execute a horizontal infrastructure improvement plan to address the electrical distribution system, water and natural gas pipeline replacement, and the Town of Crane sanitary sewer system transition.
● Workforce, job trends, and skills: The total on-base population is approximately 6,100, with that number projected to grow three to five percent over the next five years through increased involvement at career fairs both virtually and in-person, social media postings, direct hiring authorities and engagement with direct commands. NSWC Crane has hired over 1,300 individuals over the last three years, which represents the largest number seen since the 1980s. Team Crane has a total economic impact between three and four billion dollars annually, and is the second largest employer in southern Indiana.
● Opportunities for educational collaboration: There are multiple connections with universities and skilled trades to fill the job pipeline and keep the installation relevant to graduates such as the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Purdue University focusing further on microelectronics, conservation, and environmental study efforts with Indiana University, Vincennes University business and industrial training program. In 2023, an education partnership and education MOA was signed with Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington for skilled trades, criminal justice, supply chain management, and IT cybersecurity.
● Community partnership and requests for support: Team Crane hopes to identify opportunities to engage in the communities, specifically in ways that will help fill the talent pipeline locally, and provide jobs to local youth after high school and secondary education. Programs such as STEM, JROTC, internships, student-led CEO and more will help Team Crane integrate into local schools and communities. Additionally, continuing to improve local quality of life amenities such as access to affordable housing, childcare, and infrastructure will assist in recruiting efforts for all installation tenants and surrounding defense ecosystem partners.
“We are extremely grateful to NSA Crane and Cmdr. Martinez for sharing the State of the Installation with us, as this address allows us to better understand how we and our members can best support the base,” said Kent Parisien, chair of CRDG. “We look forward to the ongoing and upcoming projects that will result in an increased workforce, and the potential for our members to further engage with the southern Indiana defense ecosystem led by Team Crane.”
To learn more about CRDG, register for 2024 events, or become a member, visit craneregionaldefensegroup.org.
NSA Commander, Luis G. Martinez providing the State of the Installation Address.
About the Crane Regional Defense Group: Crane Regional Defense Group is a citizen-led committee that creates partnerships between chambers of commerce, county councils, financial institutions and business leaders to preserve the strategic value of Crane by supporting local outreach and legislative initiatives that protect military installations in the region and state, and leverage the installation’s potential to bring economic growth to Southern Indiana.