Pentagon to locate cyber squadron at Battle Creek

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

The Pentagon has selected the Battle Creek Air National Guard base as one of four sites nationwide for a new cyber operations squadron, officials said Wednesday.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who raised the issue with Department of Defense officials in meetings earlier ths year, applauded the decision.

“Cyber-attacks are an unfortunate reality of a world that is becoming increasingly more dependent on technology,” Snyder said in a statement. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to establish Michigan as a national leader in this field.”

The Pentagon is making cybersecurity a growing priority in the face of threats around the world and the need to defend against potential cybersecurity breaches.

The squadron would be part of the 110th Attack Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard and is expected to bring about 70 jobs to the base.

The move was welcomed by Rep. Fred Upton of southwest Michigan, the delegation’s senior Republicans, and Democratic U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township.

“We’re so proud of the effort put forth by our men and women in the Michigan National Guard to get the prestigious assignment,” Upton said in a statement.

Stabenow said the announcement was a testament to the 110th Attack Wing underscoring Michigan’s expertise in cyber security.

“Given the dependence of our country’s military, infrastructure, and economy on computers and the Internet, this new cyber squadron puts Michigan at the forefront in protecting our nation,” she said in a statement.

The Michigan congressional delegation also has been working to convince the Pentagon to locate a $3 billion missile defense site in Battle Creek. Upton has said the facility would add thousands of construction jobs and said the state is in competition with Ohio and two other states.

Advocates for locating the cyber operations squadron at Battle Creek argued that the 110th Attack Wing is already home to a pilot program training technicians and has much of the infrastructure required in place.

“Battle Creek makes perfect sense to house one of the new cyber operations squadrons,” said Col. Bryan Teff, commander of the Battle Creek Air National Guard.

“The recruiting base we have here in Battle Creek, coupled with the robust cyber-capabilities already in place, will allow us to easily expand those capabilities to accommodate an entire squadron.”

The Michigan National Guard’s inaugural Cyber Range Hub, which opened at the base last year, is part of the Michigan Cyber Range, which allows for reenactment exercises and simulations that test reaction and detection skills in a variety of settings across the state.

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