October 29, 2020
Written By: Shiloh Francis
It is hard to believe that 15 years ago, Ellsworth Air Force Base was on the closure list. The Box Elder and Rapid City communities, along with state-wide partners rallied and have worked tirelessly to solidify Ellsworth’s place in our country’s defense.
This coordinated effort brought improvements such as a new wastewater treatment plant, a financial services center, a drone unit, an expanded training airspace and safer accident potential zones. Additionally, work has been done to improve the lives of military families. In 2019, the South Dakota Legislature enacted a reciprocity law that allows for easy transfer of professional certifications. This lets spouses get into the workforce at a much faster pace – easing the transition of moving into a new community.
Today, Ellsworth Air Force Base is one step closer to being the Main Operating Base (MOB) 1 for the B-21 Raider Mission. While we knew in March 2019 that Ellsworth was named the preferred location for MOB 1, there are still a few steps to the Record of Decision.
In late October, the public comment period opened in response to the draft Environment Impact Statement released by the Air Force. Before a Record of Decision can be filed, the Air Force is required to conduct environmental analyses to determine the environmental impact from the proposed activities and provide the public and other stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the action and associated analyses. While Ellsworth is the preferred location, the EIS must consider an alternate location as well. The draft that’s currently available at www.b21eis.com reviews both Ellsworth and Dyess, Texas.
The next step will be reviewing the EIS and finalizing the report, which is anticipated by March of 2021. A record of decision should be announced May 2021.
We stand ready to give unprecedented support to the Air Force, Global Strike Command, and Ellsworth Air Force Base in the beddown and future mission of the B-21. South Dakota celebrates a strong sense of patriotism and pride. We see ourselves as an active partner with the Department of Defense and take seriously our responsibility to help maintain our national security.