HARRISON TOWNSHIP, MI-The US government will build a new $9.6-million medical training facility on Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit. The facility will consolidate two small antiquated medical clinics, one operated by the Army and one by the Air National Guard, into one structure.

Not only will it modernize the facilities for use by medical personnel and patients, but it will help provide proof that the base should play an important role in determining America’s military and homeland security future.

US Rep. Candice Miller, (R-Harrison Township), says the heightened reliance on reserves and National Guard personnel stationed at SANG in the past couple of years supports the need for modern facilities such as a new medical center.

“Their [reserves and Guard] increasing importance to the total force–as evidenced in the recent campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq–makes them an undeniable asset to our nation and to Michigan,” Miller says. “So it’s crucial for them to have first-rate facilities in order to maintain their status and readiness capabilities.”

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission in the Department of Defense in 2005 likely will approve a round of military-facility closings as part of an attempt at a 20% scale-down. Selfridge and the Army’s Tank Automotive Command in Warren could be on the chopping block, although local and federal officials have started lobbying the BRAC.

“This [the medical center] won’t be a pivotal argument for keeping it open, but it will be part of our sales pitch,” Miller says. Miller also noted that other recent developments at the base improves its chance for survival and gaining the homeland security center–the addition of a Chinook helicopter unit, the replacement of old KC-135 aircraft with new models and the new runway built last year.

Miller earlier this year proposed to Tom Ridge, director of the Department of Homeland Security, to name SANG as the Midwest regional headquarters for his department. Miller says Ridge probably will make his decision next year.

In another development, Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel wants to relocate several countywide police units–the auto theft, computer crime, anti-drug and SWAT units–in an existing building at Selfridge. The Army Garrison has agreed to lease the facilities to the sheriff’s office, according to Don Jarosz, Garrison public affairs officer.

The sheriff’s office would renovate a building and construct a pole barn structure for vehicles at a cost of $250,000 to $300,000, and rent the structure and land at a cost that is half of what the anti-drug unit–County of Macomb Enforcement Team–is paying in rent, Hackel says.

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