Air Force disputes lawsuit to stop urban training in Idaho

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A lawsuit seeking to stop soldiers and military jets from coordinating exercises in nine urban centers in Idaho should be dismissed because such proposed training is needed due to the nature of modern war, the U.S. Air Force said Friday.

Under the plan, aircrews would communicate with service members on the ground dressed as civilians to blend in as they identify targets with low-power lasers.

In documents filed in U.S. District Court, the Air Force said it did not abuse its discretion while giving approval for as many as 160 training events a year in the state.

The military said air support for ground forces is increasingly required in urban combat areas.

Realistic training "requires that all members of each ground support team behave in a manner typical of any community member to avoid drawing attention to themselves or the operations," the military said in proposing the training early last year.

The lawsuit filed in April by seven Boise residents and an environmental group known as Great Old Broads for Wilderness contends the Air Force did not do enough to inform the public about the exercises.

In addition, the training endangers the health, safety and quality of life of residents and wildlife, the lawsuit states.

It also contends the military is violating environmental laws because it failed to prepare a full environmental impact statement — a process that can take years.

Along with Boise, cities included in the training are Meridian, Nampa, Burley, Caldwell, Eagle, Garden City, Jerome, Kuna, Mountain Home and Twin Falls.

The proposed training would include F-15E aircrews stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base.

During the training, the jets would fly between 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) and 18,000 feet (5,500 meters) in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

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