Possible cyber protection and missile defense system coming to West Michigan

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. - Fort Custer could soon be the home to a new cyber protection squadron with support from a new missile defense system.

U.S. Representative Fred Upton and United States Senator Debbie Stabenow toured the Air National Guard base and the VA Medical Center at Fort Custer Monday afternoon.

"It's very impressive," said Stabenow. "What we're doing in Michigan through the National Guard, the Army at Fort Custer, the International Guard is really extraordinary."

Both senior leaders have been vocal since April supporting the Defense Secretary in selecting Battle Creek for it's new missile defense site. The Air National Guard base is one of only a few sites in the running.

"We're setting the stage for the rest of the delegation," said Representative Upton. "This is really unprecedented that all of us 16 members of the Michigan delegation of a bi-partisan basis are going to get together the first week in September and go to all the facilities in the state."

The missile defense site will cost approximately $3.5 billion. U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, Mark Gorzynski said if the base is selected, jobs and an economic boost are promised along with it.

"There would be an influx of construction jobs as we look at two-to-three years proposed construction timeline for the facility," said Lt. Colonel Gorzynski. "And the long term aspect of the military men who would have to run the system would have to eat, sleep, and reside in our community, and all the secondary jobs providing for over 300 military men and women in the community."

The potential investment will utilize the current infrastructures, saving the cost of building new facilities from the ground up.

"We have some of the best and brightest minds and talents on cyber security in the country," said Stabenow.

The final decision from Congress is expected in the coming months, possibly giving Michigan a unique role in safety and security for the nation.

The environmental survey will be drafted and ready for public record January of 2016: allowing public open houses in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, followed by the final impact statement to be approved later in the year.

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