Top Ten: war games

Air Force Col. Shawn Moore speaks to the audience at the August scoping meeting. Photo available for purchase

Air Force Col. Shawn Moore speaks to the audience at the August scoping meeting.

David Adlerstein
Published: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 02:07 PM.

The Air Force hit a brick wall when it proposed to conduct war games in Tate’s Hell State Forest.

During two meetings held to discuss an Air Force proposal, opponents raised numerous questions and objections to the project.

The military use of state property was proposed by Gulf Regional Airspace Strategic Initiative (GRASI), a plan to create options in the Panhandle to relieve Eglin Air Force Base’s crowded airspace.

At the August 29 scoping meeting, about 200 area residents were shocked to learn that in Oct. 2012, the Air Force signed an agreement giving the go-ahead for the military to use about 400,000 acres in Tate’s Hell State Forest and in the Blackwater River State Forest for military exercises.

Outcry against the war games was practically universal at that meeting, with only David Butler of Carrabelle offering limited support. “If you’re doing anything that will help create jobs here, obviously I’m for it,” he said.

Attendees at the formal scoping meeting were offended on being told the Air Force representatives would not answer questions because it was against policy.

Military spokesmen read a script explaining that increased air traffic has become a problem over Eglin and additional space is needed to conduct non-hazardous training for special forces stationed there. Non-hazardous training consists of groups of fewer than 20 individuals dropping from aircraft or conducting covert land maneuvers, without the use of live ammunition.

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