WASHINGTON -- Five military units in Maryland were ordered disbanded yesterday as part of a nationwide reduction or restructuring of Reserve and National Guard forces, the Pentagon announced.
Despite the closures, Maryland will have a net gain of 115 positions because other units are being beefed up to increase the state's total Guard and Reserve strength by the end of this year to 20,443 men and women.
The five deactivated Maryland units are:
* Army National Guard -- 1729th Quartermaster Company, Baltimore.
* Army Reserve -- 97th Army Command and 31st Headquarters Aviation Group, both Fort Meade, and the 2287th Dental Service Unit, Rockville.
* Air National Guard -- 135th Civil Engineering Squadron, Martin State Airport, Middle River.
Explaining the reduction by 15,963 Reserve and Guard positions nationally, Defense Secretary William J. Perry said, "In the future, we will have a smaller force structure, but it will be one that is highly ready and well-equipped."
Despite the closing of the 140-person quartermaster unit, the Army Guard stands to gain 241 slots. The supply troops are being retrained to join a new 183-strong trucking unit being formed in Baltimore.
More than 100 more Army Guard jobs will be created at a medical clinic in Parkville that is to be transferred to Reisterstown when an armory is opened there in 1998.
The rest of the new jobs will be created as other units in the state are strengthened, said Lt. Col. Grant Hayden, director of plans, operations and training for the Army Guard.
The Army Reserve strength in the state will increase by 184, but Pentagon officials were unable to identify the units affected.
The Air National Guard will shrink by 168 positions and the Air Force Reserve by 142.
At Middle River, the duties of the targeted 148-person Air Guard civil engineering squadron are being taken over by a similar squadron at the same facility, said Col. David Beasley, commander of the 135th Air Lift Group.
Noting that most of the troops from the disbanded squadron have been transferred or taken early retirement, he said, "No one has been forced out at this point."