HARRISON TWP. (WWJ/AP) - Planned Air National Guard cuts would eliminate about 850 jobs at Michigan’s Selfridge and Kellogg bases, according to a U.S. Air Force presentation, drawing criticism Tuesday from Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin and others from the state’s congressional delegation.
The Air Force presentation said that Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County’s Harrison Township, near Detroit, would lose 724 jobs with the relocation of 24 A-10 fighters. It said Kellogg Air Guard Station in Battle Creek would lose a net 122 jobs.
“I have told the Air Force and the Air National Guard to provide me with the methodology and justification for these plans,” Levin, D-Mich., said in a statement. He said his committee has scheduled a hearing March 20 with the Air Force Secretary and chief of staff and that he will “question them on their proposals” then.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said the cuts will help the military maintain its capabilities.
“We made a deliberate decision to avoid a `hollow force’ by prioritizing readiness over force structure,” Schwartz said. “A smaller, ready force is preferable to a larger force that is ill-prepared because it lacks adequate resources.”
U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, said the cuts to her hometown base challenged the idea that they are a needed response to “new budget realities.”
“I believe the cuts disproportionately hit the Air National Guard, specifically the Michigan Air Guard, and these cuts fly in the face of the Administration’s commitment to shared sacrifice,” said Miller, who mentioned the effect on active military personnel returning from Iraq.
“Here we are saying ‘Welcome home, but, you know, we’re going to eliminate this A-10 unit,’ so I think that this is, from a military strategy and a positioning standpoint, this is the wrong direction,” said Miller.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow called the planned changes “deeply concerning.”
“The proposal is most troubling for Michigan’s military families, potentially putting hundreds of our men and women in uniform out of work,” said Stabenow, D-Mich. “This plan must face strict examination and no part of it should be implemented before considering the families and communities that would be impacted.”
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said its bad news for the area.
“It actually is a huge number, I mean, if you think about the impact we’ve already seen here in Michigan with loss of jobs, this is a huge impact and for a multitude of reasons,” said Hackel.
President Barack Obama’s proposed Defense Department budget would reduce the Air Force by 3,900 active duty, 5,100 Air National Guard and 900 Air Force Reserve personnel to a staffing level of 501,000.
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