Battle Creek ANG celebrates expansion

Will provide better emergency response in Mich.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) - The Battle Creek Air National Guard base celebrated the completion of its expanded facility on Friday.

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Senator Carl Levin, along with state senator Mike Nofs, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.

"I'm very optimistic that when we get back and take up our bill in the Senate which we hope to do in July that we the House will reach an agreement then to reverse the proposed reductions in our area guard and to make sure air bases like Battle Creek are given the kind of support that they deserve," said Sen. Levin.

The 217th Air Operations Group at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base employs 250 traditional and full-time airmen and deploys an average of 178 members a year.

"The 217th has established a leading role in command and control and a record of accomplishment," said the Group's Commander, Col. Sean Southworth. "We are proud to provide a unique capability to the Air Force and also to the State of Michigan."

The Air Force proposed in March to add more than two dozen guardsmen and reserve troops -- but eliminating a current 147 positions -- at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base as part of Pentagon budget cuts.

The budget for the 2013 fiscal year proposed scrapping the proposed C-27J Cargo Plane program, and instead basing a unit that will control unmanned aerial drones at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

An updated proposal by the Air Force laid out the personnel changes that would come with the change in mission.

The jobs are broken into three categories: Drill, Active Guard/Reserve and Technical/Civilian. The budget proposal would add 25 guardsmen to the base, but cut 93 Drill positions and 54 Technical/Civilian jobs.

Updated: Friday, 08 Jun 2012, 7:31 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 08 Jun 2012, 4:04 PM EDT