On Saturday the Great Falls Tribune asked readers this question: “Should the Air Force expand the Powder River Training Complex?”
Although the Air Force already approved the expansion and the final review now rests with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the results from the Tribune’s question of the day were interesting: 64% of those responding said “Yes” and 36% said “No.”
The Montana Congressional delegation should take notice.
I have been writing about PRTC since July 2008, and many Montanans support the expansion – especially those who have military experience and those who want the best for our military personnel.
The PRTC would extend into southeastern Montana an air training area that would be used by B-1 and B-52 airplanes from Minot and Ellsworth Air Force Bases in North and South Dakota. Other planes from other bases could use the area, too. It would expand to about 28,000 square miles from the current 8,300 square miles that is used for training.
PRTC will save millions of tax dollars because crews will train closer to home. That means they will also be closer to their families. If the area had been approved for training 2013, the Air Force estimates it would have saved $21 million.
The three members of the Montana Congressional delegation (The Three Stooges) are 100% against expanding the Powder River Training Complex, basically telling the Department of Defense and aerospace companies that Montana’s skies are closed.
With their actions against the PRTC, Montana’s delegation has irreparably harmed the chances of Montana getting additional military missions.
Now the Montana delegation is doing what they do best: sending a letter and telling the Montana media they sent a letter. According to this story, the delegation sent a letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta asking for a meeting.
It’s a waste of time for Huerta to even meet with Montana’s delegation, but he will. The FAA should quickly approve PRTC. Administrator Huerta will probably tell the Montana delegation that even with the expanded training area, the PRTC area will be safer than most areas around airports in the United States.
He should also tell them that freedom is not free.
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