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General Criticizes Cutbacks At Michigan Base

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Selfridge Air National Guard Base (Courtesy: 127wg.ang.af.mil)

Selfridge Air National Guard Base (Courtesy: 127wg.ang.af.mil)

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HARRISON TWP. (WWJ/AP) - The Pentagon’s plan to eliminate a squadron of fighter jets at a Detroit-area base makes no economic sense and would cost more than 550 jobs, according to the director of the Michigan National Guard.

The U.S. Air Force is planning mission changes at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, north of Detroit, and a base in Battle Creek to rein in military spending.

Under the new changes, A-10 fighters will be removed from the 127th Wing at Selfridge. The wing would gain four KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft, enhancing the base’s role in supporting cargo and combat operations.

Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais said in a presentation Friday to local officials in Macomb County and military personnel at Selfridge that operating 24 of the attack aircraft at an Air National Guard unit costs about half of the same operation done by an Air Force unit.

“Put simply, it makes the most economic sense for our nation to put more of its resources into the National Guard, rather than the active duty force,” Vadnais said in a statement.

Losing the A-10 squadron would hurt the entire area, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said.

“Hundreds of jobs would be eliminated as a result of the plan, causing economic hardship to local families,” Hackel told The Detroit News.

U.S. Representative Candice Miller issued a statement, saying she was “concerned” about structural change proposal at Selfridge.

“A net loss of 20 aircraft at the base will certainly mean a loss of jobs and will diminish the overall scope of the mission of the Michigan Air National Guard. My concern also extends to if there is just one mission at Selfridge ANGB then that will make the base more vulnerable if the Pentagon is successful in achieving the expected two upcoming BRAC rounds in 2013 and 2015,” said Miller.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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