For several years, Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo has been eyeing plans to expanding airspace for F-16 pilot training over the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Areas, as well as portions of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The trainings could result in the discharge of 15,000 flares and 15,000 bundles of chaff annually above southern New Mexico's Wilderness Areas.
Two of the base's proposed plans would create up to a 7 million-acre Military Operations Area over the Gila Region and Rio Grande Valley from Socorro to Las Cruces for low-level (500 feet above ground level), high-level, supersonic and nighttime F-16 pilot training. These proposals threaten our quality of life, health and local economies by putting our communities, public lands, watersheds and wildlife at great risk from extreme noise, wildfire and environmental contamination.
The Air Force acknowledges that one of the draft plans, Alternative 1 -- expansion and reconfiguration of Talon MOA, east of Alamogordo -- meets its training needs with the fewest risks and impacts. We recognize the role of Holloman’s F-16 pilot training mission to national defense. Alternative 1 best meets those needs.
The role that Holloman Air Force base plays in our national security cannot be understated. The men and women stationed at Holloman are some of the nation's most courageous, and they are deserving of our respect. However, Holloman's proposed airspace expansion would unneccessarily threaten some of New Mexico's most cherished public lands and wild places.