In response to a request from Juab County commissioners, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, has agreed to ask the General Accounting Office to assess the status of the Electronic Combat Range proposed for Utah's West Desert.
The request followed a meeting requested by Juab commissioners with Air Force personnel on the range. The briefing, held April 3, did not satisfy commissioners.Though it was the third time they had met with the Air Force to learn about plans for the electronic battlefield, commissioners charged that they had not been given the true facts and do not have faith in any studies done by the Air Force.
The three commissioners were united in the decision to ask the Utah congressional delegation help get a study done by some other organization than the Air Force before the $75 million electronic battlefield is built.
"Pursuant to your request, I have contacted the General Accounting Office and asked them to assess the status of the Electronic Combat Range and report back to me as soon as possible," wrote Garn.
"I will be back in touch with you when I have received the information from the GAO," he said.
Juab County Commissioner Richard Brough said the commission received a letter from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, indicating Hatch supported the plan for the construction of the electronic battlefield at this juncture in the project's development.
"I am pleased that Sen. Jake Garn has responded to our request," said Brough. "He seems to be the only member of our congressional delegation who really cares about the citizens in rural Utah and their unique problems.
"I sincerely hope that the GAO will conclude that the Electronic Combat Range is not only entirely too costly but that it is not feasible in terms of the reality of modern warfare."
Commissioners object to the range, which would affect both Juab and Millard counties, on several points. The main operation will be located in Juab County, but people will not be stationed in the county, so it will not improve the economy.
However, commissioners' biggest objection is concern for the safety of the county residents, said Commissioner Jim Garrett.
Air traffic would increase over Nephi, with many of the flights taking place at night. Some flights would carry inert ammunition and bombs. Such inert tests are done today, but nevertheless, commissioners fear accidents.
In addition, many constituents in the West Desert are already objecting to the way low fly-overs and tests are disrupting their lifestyle.
"We have had many protests from residents of the West Desert," said Brough.