August 5, 2003
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin today met with U.S. Assistant Secretary for Defense Paul McHale in an effort to persuade the federal government to locate a federal Joint Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Michigan.
“America needs to remain vigilant at home and that vigilance will require highly-specialized training on the part of our first responders,” Granholm said. “Just as Michigan was once the Arsenal of Democracy, today it can be the training ground for those who will protect our Democracy on the home front.”
Granholm and Levin explained that the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) and Camp Grayling, two of Michigan’s most prestigious National Guard facilities, are ideally suited to serve together as a homeland security training center for first responders.
"I'm pleased that Secretary McHale has taken the time to come to Michigan so he can see, firsthand, some of the great training facilities Michigan can offer the Department of Homeland Security," said Levin. "The Governor and I have reviewed our state's homeland security plan with the secretary, and now I look forward to showing him Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and Camp Grayling."
Following the briefing, McHale was scheduled to tour the Alpena site with Levin, Adjutant General Thomas Cutler, and Col. Mike McDaniel, Granholm’s homeland security policy advisor, who also participated in the briefing.
The proposed training center would provide a joint facility where civilian and military first responders could train in a realistic setting. Only 93 miles apart, the two locations could immediately provide users with two military airfields, nearly 150,000 acres of training space, as well as facilities for housing those who train there.
Granholm and Levin noted that Michigan, with its 1,000 mile international border, is home to the first and fourth busiest commercial crossings in the nation, as well as to the largest National Guard training facility east of the Mississippi River.
Camp Grayling has over 147,000 acres where any type of training could be conducted, while Alpena has state-of-the-art facilities for training Air National Guard firefighters and EMS personnel. Those facilities are already being used by some civilian agencies for training
Senator Levin noted that a Joint Homeland Security Training Center of Excellence would provide a means for diverse agencies to train together.
“We are continuously encouraging federal, state, and local agencies to plan, train, and operate cooperatively or jointly,” Levin added.
Locating a joint training center in Michigan would be a continuation of the state’s progressive approach to emergency training, given that it is believed to be the first state to have a Memorandum of Understanding signed by teams, in this instance Michigan State Police and the Michigan National Guard, who work together on mutual missions.