Ft. Custer Army National Guard Base
Ft. Custer Army National Guard Base in Michgan is one of the most heavily used training facilities in the Midwest with its close proximity to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. It is used primarily for small arms and maintenance training at the company level. The 20th Century Tactical Studies Group (based in the US Midwest), holds two battles here in this National Guard base in Battle Creek every year.
Fort Custer Recreation Area features 22 miles of hiking trails, 20 miles of mountain bike trails and 16 miles of bridle trails. Trails are open for cross-country skiing in the winter. The park also rents 2 mini cabins and 3 rustic cabins, with one rustic cabin along the banks of the Kalamazoo River. Ft. Custer Recreation Area is located north of I-94 between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. From I-94 take Exit #85 or #92 and go north to M-96. The park is just east of Augusta on M-96.
Construction first began in 1917 at Camp Custer. Men arrived - 8,000 strong, from across the Midwest. They came carrying their own hammers and saws for the immense construction undertaking. It was hot, dusty, strenuous work, clearing the land and building railroad spurs, roads and barracks. The sound of hammer on spike rang across the hills.
Tens of thousands of men and women serving in WWI, WWII and the Korean War completed training at Fort Custer Military Training Base. In 1964, the base was closed. Grassy fields and woodlands grew temporarily silent.
Battle Creek Unlimited has turned Fort Custer, an abandoned military base, into an industrial park that contains over ninety businesses that provide over 8,000 jobs. The Fort Custer Industrial Park provides good-paying jobs to thousands of individuals by harnessing the dynamism of the global economy. Nearly, three-quarters of the workers in the Ft. Custer Industrial Park are employed by Japanese owned companies. A workforce of 8,000 now produce goods ranging from shopping carts and noodles to fiber optic traffic signals, automotive parts, water purification pumps, and products for the microscopic study of surgical specimens.
An orderly master plan began by relocating Battle Creek companies to Fort Custer Industrial Park. The next step in the plan called for a national and international marketing program to attract new businesses. Overseas efforts paid off. Keiper Recaro Gmbh and Nippon Cable arrived as the first German and Japanese manufacturing firms Establishing an inland U.S. Customs Port of Battle Creek and Foreign Trade Zone 43 proved to be attractive inducements to global manufacturers. Merchandise valued at hundreds of millions of dollars has been cleared through the inland port of entry since it opened in 1976.
The charge to retain, develop and attract employers led to resounding success in Fort Custer Industrial Park, at 3,000 acres the largest modern industrial park in Michigan. The conversion of former military property transformed the rolling, wooded tract of abandoned military land into a thriving industrial setting.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs FY 1999 Annual Accountability Report indicates that as of September 30, 1999 Fort Custer National Cemetery had 11,955 total burials. During FY 1999 (Oct 98-Sept 99) there were 1,112 burials. The VA estimates Fort Custer National Cemetery has sufficient space to continue providing full casket gravesites beyond the year 2030.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Close the US Army Reserve Center Stanford C. Parisian in Lansing, MI, and the Army Reserve Area Maintenance Support Activity #135 in Battle Creek, MI, and relocate units to a new Armed Forces Reserve Center on Fort Custer Reserve Training Center, MI.
Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation transforms Reserve Component facilities in the State of Michigan. The implementation of this recommendation will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's force structure plans and Army transformational objectives.
This recommendation is the result of a state-wide analysis of Reserve Component installations and facilities conducted by a team of functional experts from Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Office of the State Adjutant General, and the Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command.
This recommendation closes one Army Reserve Center in Lansing, MI, and one Area Maintenance Support Activity in Battle Creek, MI, and constructs a multifunctional Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) capable of accommodating Reserve units. This recommendation reduces the number of separate DoD installations by relocating to a new AFRC.
This recommendation provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies.
Although not captured in the COBRA analysis, this recommendation avoids an estimated $9.0M in mission facility renovation costs and procurement avoidances associated with meeting AT/FP construction standards and altering existing facilities to meet unit training and communications requirements. Consideration of these avoided costs would reduce costs and increase the net savings to the Department of Defense in the 6-year BRAC implementation period, and in the 20- year period used to calculate NPV.
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.
Commission Findings: The Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, the Commission notes that the Army's process was well thought-out and inclusive of the leadership of the Reserve Components and the State.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan. Therefore, the Commission approved the recommendation of the Secretary.
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