Despite the whole Montana Congressional Delegation being against it, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given the final approval to the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC). (Source)
This will 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. It will 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.
On the other hand, U.S. Senators Jon Tester, Steve Daines, and Representative Ryan Zinke (and before that Senator Max Baucus and Rep. Denny Rehberg) dishonored the military by coming out against the PRTC.
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.
Back in July 2008 I first wrote about the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) and the proposal to expand it into southeastern Montana. The expanded training area 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.
I have been in favor of the PRTC since the beginning.
PRTC will save millions of tax dollars because crews will train closer to home. If the area had been approved in 2013, the Air Force estimates it would have saved $21 million. (Source)
Unfortunately, the Montana congressional delegation has not supported the expansion for trivial reasons. Who knows, maybe some big donors live in the area and this is their ultimate reason for not supporting the expansion.
Just last week, the Montana Congressional delegation attempted a “Hail Mary” type blitz. The Associated Press (AP) reported, “Montana U.S. Sens. Tester and John Walsh and Rep. Steve Daines told Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in a Friday letter that the proposal would stifle economic development and threaten safety in the region.”