Michigan’s 15 members of congress are questioning proposed cuts that affect the state’s air national guard bases. They sent letters to both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees Monday. The congressional delegation joined Governor Rick Snyder, who questioned Secretary of Defense Leon Penetta about the cuts (along with other governors) in a letter last week.
The cuts would eliminate more than 600 positions; although most are part-time jobs with the Michigan Air National Guard. The two bases affected are in Battle Creek and near Mt. Clemens.
Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he also has concerns. That committee will host a hearing on the proposed cuts on March 21st.
“It seems way out of proportion to the other cuts which were made in the defense budget and so we’re going to have some tough questions to ask at that hearing as to – why major cuts in the air guard?” Levin said.
Levin says the cuts proposed to the air guard seem high when compared to cuts in other reserve and active duty forces.
Meanwhile, Levin says the alleged killings of 16 civilians in Afghanistan by a U.S. solider over the weekend are a “huge tragedy.”
U.S. officials say the shooter is an Army staff sergeant who acted alone. Reports indicate he returned to his base in southern Afghanistan after the shootings to turn himself in.
“It was apparently just one solider just kind of going off the deep end but causing huge tragic consequences to the people who obviously who were killed but also to our country. And so we don’t know what the fallout will be but it will be there,” Levin said.
Levin says the incident appears to be an isolated one, but worries it could cause more violence in the region.
U.S. and NATO officials say the deaths will not change plans to transition control of security operations to Afghan officials by the end of 2014.