2/10/2006

Malmstrom Missiles

It's hard to argue with the logic, but I still hate to see cuts at Malmstrom. I struggle to imagine that ICBM's will be a part of our strategic forces in the long term, except when I contemplate the rise of China.

Ed Kemmick, on the other hand, thinks the missiles "are designed to meet a Cold War threat that no longer exists."

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

The brewery gone, the ironworks gone, the smelter gone. The Minuteman III's only have 15 years of service life left.

Wal Mart being built in the crash potential zone negates any future flying mission at the Base.

The Base will close. 4000 jobs gone.

Great Falls will look like Uptown Butte.

Treasure State Jew said...

This just emphasizes the need to keep any building activity away from the crash potential zone.

Look, from everything I have ever heard, the Air Force likes Great Falls. We have huge, unencroached air space. Our population is friendly and pro-military. More, this is a nice place to raise a family.

Anonymous, I think you oversell the problem. Once the Minuteman's have outlived their service life, they will be replaced by a follow-on system. Unless a radical sea-change happens in global politics, land based missiles will be a significant part of our national defense. And that means Malmstrom.

That doesn't mean that all of our eggs should be in the same basket. While Northcentral Montana is a good place to put missile silos, it is also a good place to fly planes.

Utilizing our airspace for a flying mission would not only be a smart logistical move for the Air Force; it would also do more for our economy than any missile mission ever could.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder if our country has the courage to defend itself anymore. Could we see a new missle system being built in today's culture of NIMBY? Yes we should stay out of the "crash zone" but the property owner should be compensated.

david said...

I see both sides of the issue: as an active-duty Airman stationed at Malmstrom, I am justifiably proud of the mission and the people of Malmstrom, and completely understand the need for ICBMs. On the other hand, as a citizen and taxpayer, I agree that cuts are inevitable, and that 450 ICBMs will surely provide for America's defense just as well as 500 ICBMs.

I do not, however, think that Malmstrom will close anytime soon...land-based nuclear missiles are much less "transportable" than airplanes. More likely that we'll see a new flying mission here than that the entire base is shuttered.

Jim Rohrich said...

It makes complete sense to deactivate the 564th due to a command and control system that's different from the other 3 missile squadrons. Minot, F.E. Warren and now Malmstrom will each have 450 Minuteman III missiles in the field.

I see very little chance of a new flying mission coming to Malmstrom. What's the point? Ask yourself, what flying mission comes to Malmstrom to justify fixing the runway? The next bomber beyond the B-2 isn't planned to be built for another 10 - 15 years. Tankers? Nope, the base lost those in the early 90s. And besides, what would you need the tankers for? The B-52s at Minot will be retired in the near future. The B-1s at Ellsworth will retire a few years after that. Is the Air Force planning on moving the next gen bomber force to Minot and Ellsworth. Haven't heard anything suggesting that... and it's way out in the future to boot. Will the Air Force move the F-22 to Malmstrom... with F-15s flying at Gore Hill? I doubt it.

The folks arguing about the new development sitting in a potential crash zone are foolish. Walmart will build there right now. The Air Force and some military boosters would have you believe that a flying mission that hasn't shown up in nearly 15 years impacts a development that's happening right now. I say build Walmart and move on from the phantom flying mission.

ZenPanda said...

It's not just that the 564th has different stuff but the stuff is expensive to fix and currently becoming outdated almost to the point of non-fixable.
Why is the city selling the land to Wal-Mart if they know it will encroach on the base?
There is a huge area on 57th street away from the crash zone that is empty! (2nd north to 3rd south on the west side of 57th)
Why not build there?

SallyT said...

Because the proposed Wal-Mart is not in the crash zone. The proposed housing developments are in the crash zone.

The question that needs asking is, if we allow housing development in that zone, or even just outside the zone, will we face howling from residents about the jet noise, should the runway be reactivated?

In my experience, folks tend to encroach, then demand the Air Force adapt (see Litchfield Park/Luke AFB in Arizona)...or at least demand the government compensate them for suffering the noise, property value loss, higher insurance, etc.

Seems awful shortsighted to build anything so close to the base, as long as flying missions are still possible.

dona stebbins said...

Panda, the city doesn't own the land. A man named Dan Huestis owns the land and is the "push" behind the WalMart project. He just bought the strip of county owned land that was in the way of the project last week in a county sale.
The city has very little control over whether this will be happening. The City has not actively courted or encouraged WalMart, and it will be up to the citizens of Great Falls to protest in the event they don't want another WalMart.

Anonymous said...

I dont think its as much a case of not wanting another Wal Mart as it is trying to keep as many options open as possible for the Base. When the Base closes Great Falls will tank.

ZenPanda said...

Sally- when I looked at the proposed wal-mart site it looks in the crash zone to me. (But I am not an expert.) What are the proposed housing developments? I guess I'm more out of it than I thought.
OK- I am going to have to read things a lot closer - I swear the trib said it was the city selling the land. My bad.
There is a lot of open land on 57th that is ripe for development.

Joe Briggs said...

The Walmart site itself does not lie within the APZ (Accident Potential Zone) and for that reason is not a concern for the future use of the runway.

The concerns are over a second piece of property which was added to the same annexation request as the Walmart and a proposed residential area which is contained in a seperate annexation request. The second piece of land bundled into the Walmart request is directly East of the Walmart site and encrouches 400' into the APZ. It is supposed to be a commercial retail development.

If the developer chooses to recognize the existance of the APZ, the development would still be able to occur with some intelligent placement of the landscaping, parking lot and the water retention systems (these could be placed in the APZ and would not constitute a problem). At this point however, the develope is unwilling to recognize the existance of the zones.

The proposed high density residential area lies directly across APZ #1 within a couple hundred feet of the end of the runway. There is no way to mitigate the impact of this sort of development in an APZ.

Since the developers of both these projects have bypassed the county processes by requesting annexation into the city, the County zoning currently in effect on these properties (which would not allow the encroachment)is moot. Unless the city recognizes and enforces the APZ, there is no method for stopping the encroachment except through contract with the property owners.

This would be my prefered method anyway, but thus far, the owners of the property have been unwilling to entertain such an arrangement.

I should also point out the runway has a limited life and from a practical standpoint we only have a few years left in which to get it reactivated before it falls into disrepair. This coupled with the current process of selecting US bases to house returning units from Europe and the shuffling which occurs after each BRAC and QDR creates a four or five year window of opportunity for us to get a flying mission.

Ideally, I would like to see the following steps occur:

1) The city recognize the zones and protect them from encroachment for a period of 5 years. If in that time the runway has yet to be activated, drop the protection and allow development.

2) Work with the developer of the retail complex slated for next to Walmart to mitigate the issues with the 400' slice lying within the zone. This may require the purchase of protective easements or alteration of city requirements to allow the development without encroachment.

3) Purchase either the development rights or the land itself from the developers of the planned residential development.

These steps would protect the zone while we still have a reasonable chance of getting a new mission as well as compensate the developers for their percieved loss of property value.

ZenPanda said...

OK- I now understand. Thank you all for you information and clarification.

WolfPack said...

Joe has publicly demonstrated way too much common sense for the cascade county electorate to tolerate. I predict he’s a one termer unless he reels in his plain spoken, fair and common sense opinions. When the Trib gets a hold of this their going to cut him up with the EDGE.

Jim Rohrich said...

Joe, thank you for taking the time to explain the details.

Eric Coobs said...

Since Red Horse squadron tore down the control tower a few years ago, trenched through the runway lights, and filled the hangars with shops, it's unlikely there will ever be another flying mission up there.

I say keep the missiles. We need every federal dollar we can get coming into this state!