Thursday Numbers

The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading.David Bailey

Here you go – keep reading…

In case you’re new around here, “Thursday Numbers” is the weekly column where I take a look at the numbers that are in the news (in descending order) and provide commentary sometimes sprinkled with sarcasm.

This week I write about the C.M. Russell Museum, Montana Millionaire trial, unemployment, the Powder River Training Complex, CodeRED exercise, the carpool lane, the ISIS “Hit List,” my brackets, State Rep. “Recon” Randy Pinocci, the Top 10 Community Colleges, Ronda Rousey & Jimmy Fallon, Rockin’ the Rivers, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash. There’s a lot more so read on…

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BREAKING: Powder River Training Complex Approved

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.

Congratulations go to U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) who worked tirelessly on this plan and his unwavering support for our nation’s military.

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.

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Trib Question: 64% Say Yes to 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.

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Caught My Eye…

Almost every Friday since July 2010 I have posted a column called “Caught My Eye.” There are 228 of them.

This column is where I take a quick look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm just to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little. Basically, nothing is off-limit – nothing!

Here are the top three “Caught My Eye” columns from 2014. Enjoy!

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Powder River Training Complex: A Hail Mary?

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.”

That’s absurd.

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Rep. Steve Daines: Montana’s Skies Are Closed

Since July 2008 I have been writing about the proposed Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) that would extend 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. Of course 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 supported the expansion from the beginning.

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.

Since 2008, elected officials in Montana have basically told anyone and everyone that Montana’s skies are closed. Their backward thinking may have even caused the Montana Air National Guard to lose their jet fighter mission – plus hurt the chances of Malmstrom AFB (near Great Falls) from ever getting another flying mission – or getting an aerospace contractor to relocate to Montana to use Malmstrom’s closed runway.

The Associated Press yesterday reported that freshman Congressman Steve Daines has “asked the Air Force to remove from its plans a vast swath of airspace above southeast Montana, northwest South Dakota and southwest North Dakota.”

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Malmstrom AFB: Good News & Big Win?

It’s really hard to take all the “good news” and the “big win” recently in regard to Malmstrom AFB which is near Great Falls, Montana.

Earlier this month, the Air Force announced that they will remove a total of 50 missiles from the three missile bases (Malmstrom, F.E. Warren in Wyoming, and Minot in North Dakota) and place them in storage.

It’s kind of like when you take that TV or microwave and stick it in the corner of the garage or in the spare room – and forget about it.

The Associated Press reported at time, “The resulting launch-ready total of 400 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles would be the lowest deployed ICBM total since the early 1960s.”

Today nine countries have nukes. Two more, Syria and Iran, would love to get their hands on them.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) called placing the 50 missiles in storage “a big win.”

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MT Congressional Delegation: Epic Failure

Once again Montana’s congressional delegation failed to protect another military mission in the state. It was announced on Tuesday that the three Minuteman missile bases (Malmstrom in Montana, F.E. Warren in Wyoming, and Minot in North Dakota) will lose a total of 50 missiles.

Malmstrom already had 50 missiles removed in 2007 under the watch of Jon Tester, Max Baucus, and Denny Rehberg. Just recently the delegation allowed F-15 fighter jets to be removed from the Montana Air National Guard and replaced with a few cargo planes. Jets had been part of the Montana Air National Guard for over 50 years. The delegation has been against the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex in southeast Montana, basically telling the Department of Defense (DoD) and aerospace companies that Montana’s skies are closed. Now, the DoD will remove more missiles.

So when Senator Jon Tester, Senator John Walsh, and Congressman Steve Daines tout their support for Montana’s military, it’s pretty hard to see.

It would be nice if at least one of three acted just a little irate at more cuts, but instead we see a press release trying to spin it as a victory with, “Tester, Walsh praise decision to keep Malmstrom’s ICBM silos operational.” Tester was quoted in the joint press release saying this was a “big win.”

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Caught My Eye…

Woohoo – we made it to Friday!

Coming to you from The Western Word world headquarters deep inside a bunker somewhere in Montana, this is “Caught My Eye!” This column is posted right here every Friday morning! This is when I take a quick look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm just to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little. Basically, nothing is off-limit – nothing!

Today I write about Lt. Governor John Walsh, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Steve Daines, Max Baucus, the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of Defense, Malmstrom, F.E. Warren, and Minot, Global Strike Command, Mike “libido” Huckabee, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, Bloggers’ rights, birthdays, plus we have two people who are making Montana proud!

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Caught My Eye…

Welcome to your Friday favorite – “Caught My Eye!” Thanks for stopping by, and let me be one of the first to wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

If this is your first time visiting The Western Word, the “Caught My Eye” column is posted every Friday morning! This is when I take a quick look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm just to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little.

Today I write about closing a missile squadron, Daines and the poll, Missile Force “burnout,” the Senate Nuclear Option, Update on Kelsey Sue Anderson, the wrong big plane, Brawl of the Wild, friendly wager, JFK 50 years, plus we have a winner who is Making Montana Proud.

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