AUGUSTA — In a email to soldiers and their families Tuesday, the head of Maine’s Army National Guard attempted to quell concerns raised by reports that the state’s 133rd Engineer Battalion would be relocated and replaced with an infantry unit.

“Let me be absolutely clear: There has been no decision to move the 133rd Engineer Battalion from Maine,” wrote Brig. Gen. James Campbell, adjutant general of the Maine National Guard. “Some contingency planning has occurred, including this possibility. Unfortunately, those plans have been falsely portrayed in the media as a ‘done deal.’ We all know that as military professionals we must hope for the best and plan for the worst,” he wrote.

Guard officials discussed the proposal to relocate the 500-member engineering unit with staffers of Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in late April, according to a Pingree spokesman.

Since then, the Guard has consistently downplayed the plan, saying it’s only one of several options on the table in the face of sweeping cuts to the Army found in the proposed national defense budget. Gov. Paul LePage has declared that the battalion isn’t going anywhere under his watch.

In the email sent Tuesday, which was obtained by the Bangor Daily News through the governor’s office, Campbell tells soldiers the National Guard Bureau has directed all states to engage in a process that would re-balance units nationally in the event that the entire Guard has to endure the cuts proposed in the budget.

“These cuts would potentially include up to 45,000 soldiers across all states, including Maine, and would take place over the course of the next several years if the Army’s plan unfolds,” Campbell wrote.

Though the email seemed to be an effort to quell concerns by guardsmen and their families, Campbell warned that if the Army’s proposed budget cuts are accepted by Congress, the Guard will be forced to reduce its manpower — a reduction that would potentially result in the loss of some engineer companies and other units.

He described that reduction as a “worst-case scenario” that could result in the loss of Maine’s storied engineer battalion, but reassured soldiers and their families that “nobody from Maine will be required to transfer out of our state.”

He also said the Guard’s mission requires state engineers, so Maine would not lose its entire engineering capability.

The 133rd is made up of soldiers from the 136th Engineering Company in Skowhegan and Lewiston, 185th Engineering Support Company from Caribou, 251st Engineering Company SAPPER of Norway, the Forward Support Company in Portland, Headquarters Support Company, the 262nd Engineering Company based in Belfast and Westbrook, and the 1035th Survey and Design Team of Gardiner.

There are 167 members of the 133rd deployed in Afghanistan working to downsize and consolidate the bases there as the United States prepares to withdraw its remaining military forces from the country.


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