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New York Post
Putting Soldiers' Security Out To Pasture
November 21, 2000
Which should one choose: Adequate training for U.S. soldiers or a more pleasant environment for cows to graze in?
The answer seems obvious.
Unless, of course, you're a rancher in Lubbock, Texas. The ranchers are going with the four-legged option.
Last week, 18 West Texas ranchers and a group called the Heritage Environmental Preservation Association filed a federal lawsuit to stop pending low-level bomber flights over their land.
The flights - some would fly as low as 300 feet - may disturb livestock, create noise, negatively impact the environment and lower property values.
They have every right, of course, to sue.
But the Air Force specifically picked West Texas for low-altitude flights because of its relatively small population
and the limited commercial air traffic in the region.
If the Air Force can't send flights there, where can it send its flights?
Some 18 months ago, similar protests arose in Vieques , Puerto Rico . There, residents complained about U.S. Naval forces' training exercises in the area after an errant bomb killed a resident and injured four others.
But as in Texas, the site there is extremely important for military training.
And hard to replicate.
Simply put, if bases like those in Vieques and West Texas are shut down or restricted to appease local residents, more soldiers will be unprepared for combat - and more soldiers may die.
The choice in Lubbock - as in Vieques - should be clear.
Soldiers' lives must take priority over local claims.