War Games In Alabama -
'Tell Someone Next Time'
Our Opinion
The Anniston Star Online
The Green Berets swooped in out of the darkness Friday night (3-12-99). Silent and deadly, they drifted down from the heavens on their silk parachutes, hitting the ground and scurrying to set up the defensive perimeter around that most strategic of positions: Anniston Municipal Airport.
They fought bravely through the night, withstanding the jarring fake explosions and confusion of the darkness. They performed admirably and in the end captured the airport from a mythical enemy.
Do we all feel safer after the Army's weekend war game in our area? Not only do we not feel safer, we feel just a little bit mad about the whole affair.
How else to articulate the emotion elicited by an unannounced full-scale invasion of the airport by the 75th Ranger Regiment from Fort Benning and the 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment from Fort Campbell?
A good many people in Oxford heard explosions around 8 p.m. Friday and looked out their windows to see paratroopers gliding to earth. And most of them were enduring it all in the dark. Alabama Power, you see, cut the power for about two hours that night. The power company was cooperating with the Army, which had requested the power outage around the airport so that no paratroopers would be hurt by the live electrical lines.
That's totally understandable. What is not is Alabama Power's failure in telling everyone about the power outage. For those folks left out in the dark, there was the unexpected power outage followed by the - for all they knew - real a full-scale invasion of the airport, by who knows who.
The power company says it sent notices to the estimated 300 customers who would lose their power on a Friday evening. But some of those notices never reached the customers. Well, OK, so some were returned. But here is a very irksome thing: The Alabama Power notice declared that the power would be cut 'to perform work on the power lines.'
Excuse us. What was that again? Work on the power lines?
Standard notice, standard notice, Buddy Eiland, Alabama Power's spokesman explains. Anytime there is a power cut the same notice goes out, evidently.
That's a real hoot. The power company doesn't have a problem delivering the power bill to everybody who deserves one, nor do they have any trouble putting a different name on each bill. Heck they even send a fellow around to your house every month to have a look-see at your meter just so they will know how much money you own them. But the company can't send out a notice that tells you what all the commotion at the airport is going to be about on Friday night.
The Army says it alerted the area about the exercises that also took place at Fort McClellan. Hershal Chapman, Fort McClellan's public affairs spokesman, says a press release went out to media outlets telling of the exercise.
You are so right Mr. Chapman, but that notice failed to mention anything about the airport or that the power would be offed.
The Army and Alabama Power have some apologizing and some explaining to do to this community.
The Anniston Municipal Airport belongs to this community, it is not part of some vast federal government holding that the powers that be can do with as they please.
If you are going to play soldiers in our yard, you ought to invite us to play. Or, take your guns and parachutes and go home.