LETTER: A new national defense priority | PostIndependent.com
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LETTER: A new national defense priority

The loss of 19 warriors [firefighters] recently may have been an avoidable tragedy. The aim here is not to point fingers but to suggest what may well work.

In all I have read, a slurry plane has never been mentioned. What one may have been able to provide is a “safer” zone to deploy the shelters, which are obviously inadequate on their own; i.e., Storm King and now Yarnell, Ariz., as evidence.

To have one flying loops around a fire zone should be a “national defense” priority to give these warriors a fighting chance, especially when a certain threat level is perceived. Obviously these extra planes could help fight fires more aggressively when not needed to provide backup to these brave Americans on the ground. The fighters could signal the planes with flares for help and a pilot may detect danger approaching and deploy their load even without a signal from the ground.

Another (possibly silly) idea is for everyone to carry a chip that would show locations for all imposed on a screen with the fire’s spreading parameters. Anyone who has done thousands of miles in the backcountry has probably been in a situation where things changed so fast you almost couldn’t fathom what was hitting you.

I’m ball-parking this, but I believe Colorado alone has lost close to $500 million or more [to fire] in the last 14 months. With a national defense budget of about $600 billion, I’m presenting a double dog dare to the appropriate politicians.

Dare No. 1: Submit a bill for at least 10 more [firefighting] planes, even if that costs a couple hundred million and some type of financial reward (a half a million) to whoever invents and presents a superior fire-heat protection shelter.

Dare No. 2: Vote against appropriations for this and see if you survive another election cycle.

Anyone that knows anything about high tech military bombers or fighter jets knows that the price of one of these would be enough to address this shortage in real “national defense” of lives and property.

I sincerely hope this stirs the right person to effective action and less hot air.

Daniel Gustafson

Glenwood Springs


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