Governor LePage says reports of guard unit moving are politically motivated

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor LePage is responding to reports that the Army National Guard is nearing the final stages of a plan to reassign Maine's 133rd Engineer Battalion to Pennsylvania.

The plan, according to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree's office, is to have a less specified combat infantry unit take its place in Maine.

"On Tuesday senior leaders from the Maine Army National Guard asked to come into the office and talk about it, in Washington. Congresswoman Pingree was briefed on it," said Pingree Spokesman Willy Ritch.

Members of the 133rd battalion train soldiers for combat, provide community service, and build youth camps, nature trails and rural fairgrounds. They also help those affected by natural disasters. There is concern that another infantry unit might not be as valuable to Maine as the engineer battalion has been.

Thursday morning, Gov. LePage responded by saying there's no story here. He says talks go on all the time about reassignments in the military.

"That is just a political ploy by Congressman Michaud and the Pingree press. This has been going on for several years, this is normal routine stuff. A decision will be made in two or three years and a lot of it is due to the federal government and whether they're going to downsize the military," Gov. LePage said.

Ritch said Congresswoman Pingree first became aware of the plan when she was contacted by a constituent and then received a call by a reporter about it. Ritch said Pingree is concerned about a transfer because it would result in fewer opportunities for women, since some positions in the infantry unit that would come to Maine are off limits to women.


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