It’s been an interesting week for the military in Montana, and it’s not been a good one.
The day before Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester voted to cut the number of missiles assigned to Malmstrom AFB by voting for the START Treaty, they sent a letter to the Air Force stating their opposition to the expansion of Powder River Training Complex in southeastern Montana.
They might as well just ask all military missions to leave Montana entirely, because they have left an anti-military impression with most military supporters across the state and those who make the “big decisions” at the Pentagon.
Here at The Western Word, I’ve written several columns about the expansion. I totally favor it and feel our Congressional delegation is wrong on this issue. (You can read my previous columns about this issue by going to right side of the screen, clicking on “Categories” and selecting “Powder River Training Complex” from the dropdown menu).
So what is new? Baucus and Tester have suggested a new idea: Northern Montana. They think the Air Force should use the Hays Military Operations Area.
As for the reasons they are against the Powder River Expansion, they write that the area has several community airports, general aviation aircraft use the area, there are commercial flights, and that it would jeopardize jobs and harm the economy. They also talk about the stress on livestock and wildlife.
The issues brought up in the letter against the expansion of Powder River are the same concerns one could bring up against using the Hays MOA. Someone in the Baucus/Tester camp who pretends to know a thing or two about military issues failed miserably in writing this letter to the Air Force.
One can only imagine the laughter that came out of the Department of Air Force after getting the letter – probably a deep belly laugh similar to the laugh of Santa Claus…
Maybe a reason our Congressional delegation are so against this expansion is because they have campaign donors living in the southeastern Montana who don’t like it…
Hopefully, some of the supporters of the military in Montana will write a letter of their own to the Air Force and state the case for the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex.
Like I said before, our elected leaders have placed a sign on Montana’s skies saying they are closed. They may lose the F-15s and their attitude against the Powder River expansion probably did not help that situation or the possibility of any military aircraft mission ever coming to Montana.
Fortunately, the Powder River expansion has a very strong supporter in Senator John Thune (R-SD) – who is a member of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee. Hopefully, he will use his clout to get it done. He works hard for the military in his state.