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Air Guard Squadron Gets Trimmed

The Four Lakes Air National Guard Station will lose more than 100 positions as its mission changes from air traffic control to combat communications.

During the next two years, the station near Cheney will reduce the number of personnel from 245 to 130. Most of the positions in the air control squadron are part-time.

The change in mission will take place by the end of this year. The new unit at Four Lakes will carry the designation of 105th Combat Communications Squadron.

The U.S. Air Force on Friday announced cutbacks in 16 states, including numerous changes in North Dakota and South Dakota that will result in a combined loss of about 800 jobs.

The station near Cheney, about 15 miles southwest of Spokane, is among several space-warning and surveillance sites nationwide that are being cut back or realigned, the Air Force said.

The Four Lakes station is home to the 105th Tactical Control Squadron and formerly was the site of Nike air-defense missiles. Radar operators at the station control military aircraft flying within a 200-mile radius.

The squadron was formed in 1971.

The Air Force said the cuts are being made in response to budget constraints and a reduced security threat in the post-Cold War era.

Rumors of change have drifted among the Four Lakes personnel for months, said Lt. Col. Arthur Kulibert, who retired earlier this year from active duty.

“It’s been rumored since October or even before,” he said. “A lot of the people would be eligible for retirement.”

Kulibert, who remains on inactive duty, hadn’t learned of the change until Friday.

Another rumor is that McChord Air Force Base in Western Washington, which handles much of the West Coast’s military air control, may take over more work in the Spokane area, he said.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Gita Sitaramiah Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.