Proposed military cuts would wipe out fleet at Selfridge base in Michigan

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Gus' Coney Island on 23 Mile Road is a part of the Selfridge Air National Guard base community.

"Everybody appreciates everything they do for us," said waitress Violet Atanasovski.

Atanasovski serves Selfridge's employees daily and said everyone tries to give back when they can. But, Atanasovski said, she's noticed a change.

"If they don't have a job, we lose customers, and that's how we make our living too," she said. "It really affects all of us. It's a trickle down thing."

And even more changes are expected, big ones.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is slashing the military's budget and wants to completely eliminate A-10 aircrafts from the military's fleet.

Selfridge is considered a hub for A-10s.

Slideshow: Inside Selfridge air base

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, said there's too much at stake by eliminating such a huge part of Selfridge.

"The 127s, Michigan Red Devils, are flying the A-10s at Selfridge National Guard Base. If they were to be eliminated, it would then be up to the Air Force to produce a follow-up mission," Miller said. "The Air National Guard overall is a way to really lower overall military costs while at the same time maintaining a very ready force. Secretary Hagel is really going down the wrong path here, I think."

In other words, what would be next for the 650 employees tied to A-10s? An unclear future.

Sgt. Dan Heaton said until the cuts trickle down, A-10 missions will continue to be carried out as planned.

Full statement from Representative Candice Miller on military spending cuts: 

"Providing for our common defense is the first and foremost responsibility of the federal government.  As Congress begins consideration of the budget, making certain our nation is adequately defended will be my top priority.

Over the last few years the budget put forward by the Administration has attempted to eliminate the flying mission of the A-10s and diminish the role of the Air National Guard.  Each time I have been proud to help lead the effort in Congress to reject this proposal and have demanded that the Air Force put forward a plan on how it will replace the important ground support mission of the A-10 and properly utilize the great talent and skill provided by the brave men and women of the Air National Guard.

Recently, the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force concluded that we in Congress were on the right path by recognizing that the Air Guard was a vital national asset that provided our nation with great security in a very cost effective manner that must be utilized.

In fact, the Commission even recommended greater reliance on the Air Guard to save money and maintain a ready force. 

The National Guard was the most important factor to secure our freedom in our revolution and has been the foundation of our national security for the last two centuries.  Nothing highlights this fact more vividly than the incredible service and sacrifice provided by the brave men and women of the National Guard since the attacks of 9/11 during which they have provided nearly 1/3 of all forces deployed in the defense of freedom, the largest such call up since World War II. 

The Administration can expect that those of us who so strongly recognize the important role the National Guard plays in defending our nation will not back down in ensuring that role is not diminished."

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