F-15 Eagle

In this file photo, a pair of F-15E Strike Eagles with the 366th Fighter Wing based at Mountain Home Air Force Base fly over Idaho’s Sawtooth Range in 2000. The Air Force plans to conduct as many as 160 urban war games a year in nine Idaho towns and cities.

Amid concern from some residents, the U.S. Air Force is preparing to move forward with its plan to conduct as many as 160 urban war games a year in nine towns and cities across southwestern Idaho, writes Idaho Press reporter Tommy Simons. Those war games, or “training events,” would include unarmed members of the military dressed as plainclothes civilians stationed in some of southwestern Idaho’s urban locations, such as downtown Boise.

Military personnel on the ground would communicate with U.S. Air Force planes overhead, and the two groups would work together to find targets, which aircraft would identify with “low-power, eye-safe lasers,” according to a document released by the U.S. Air Force. The training events might take place during the day or at night, and U.S. Air Force officials have stressed the need for training to take place in a city setting to simulate “urban environments encountered in combat.”

The military conducted an environmental assessment to evaluate the possible consequences of such training and has determined southwestern Idaho would see no significant environmental impact. That study is public and online, and residents have until Oct. 20 to comment on it. After that, the military officials will make their decision.

Some Idaho residents have voiced concern about the proposal, both due to the nature of the training and the manner in which the U.S. Air Force has implemented the project. Despite multiple public meetings on the subject, they say the military has not been transparent enough with residents and has failed to take their concerns into account. You can read Simmons’ full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today’s Idaho Press; it’s on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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