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July 16, 2002 The Voice of the Times tells military training area opponents to 'stand down'

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2002

Military forces based in Alaska need to be able to use the training areas assigned to them.

To borrow a phrase from the Battle Hymn of the Republic, they are America's terrible swift sword, an imposing fighting force that is and must be prepared to counter those around the globe who would attack our country.

That sword must be unsheathed and unleashed when the need arises, as it has so many times in the past. And keeping the sword sharp is the responsibility of Lt. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander of the Alaskan Command, umbrella group for all military forces serving here.

Keeping the sword sharp requires that the military have unhindered use of the training areas assigned to it. Those training areas are relatively large and represent one of the primary attractions for air, ground and sea forces stationed in Alaska and those sent here from other bases to hone their skills.

The U.S. military is one of the most environmentally conscious and responsible organizations under the American flag. Its activities will inevitably result in some surface damage and occasional wildlife casualties, but the Alaskan Command is a good neighbor and does what it can to minimize those problems and to correct them when they occur.

The Alaskan Command should be encouraged to make full use of its training areas. That means some of its neighbors, including those near the Eagle River Flats artillery impact area, must put up with the sound of firing and the environmental impacts of shells landing in the flats.

Various green groups and the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council have sued in U.S. District Court seeking an order to block the Army from using its firing range. The training area opponents should stand down.

Putting up with and adjusting to such problems is what they and we can do to help the military perform its difficult and dangerous job.



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