- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Plans to convert the 133rd Engineer Battalion into an infantry battalion have been scrapped, the adjutant general of the Maine National Guard said Friday.

The Maine National Guard confirmed that the National Guard Bureau command plan retains existing Maine Army National Guard units and that none would convert to an infantry unit. Brig. Gen. Gerald Bolduc said he’s happy to retain the combat engineers, saying their capabilities and expertise “are second to none.”

“As we’ve said all along, the 133rd Engineer Battalion is staying right here where it belongs,” Gov. Paul LePage said. “Now that the command plan has been finalized, I am confident we can move forward with a clear path for the future of the Maine National Guard.”

The former adjutant general, James Campbell, said Maine was being forced to consider replacing the engineering battalion because of possible federal cuts.

LePage appeared to have been caught off-guard by the potential move, which Campbell characterized as a worst-case scenario. Believing Campbell was working behind his back, LePage eventually fired him, saying he’d lost confidence.

Maine officials see value in the 133rd because it’s more specialized than an infantry unit.

The 133rd, which has 160 members, has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan but has also done work at home.

The unit helped to clear and rebuild roads after the ice storm of 1998 and responded to a 2006 flood in York County, the Patriot’s Day storm of 2007 and Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Last winter, the unit supported snow-bound Massachusetts by assisting in clearing train terminals, streets and pedestrian walkways.

In Washington, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King praised the decision. “The 133rd Engineering Battalion is a vital asset to Maine, and I am relieved it will remain in the state,” King said.

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