Why are two rifle ranges necessary?

It was announced recently that $7.4 million has been included in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2019 that will be used to expand training capabilities at the Ohio National Guard’s Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center with a new automated machine gun range.

The funding was intended to give our National Guard units training at Camp Ravenna a new automated, multi-purpose machine gun range. Officials said that would give the Ohio Army National Guard a much-needed training capability, providing our soldiers a realistic environment to meet their training requirements currently not available in Ohio.

That sounds wonderful. As our men and women in uniform face dangerous threats around the world, we are glad to see ensuring they possess the right training equipment ranks highly among our elected leaders.

However, it was just two years ago that $9.4 million was allocated in the 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill to fund construction of an indoor firing range at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. That $7.8 million contract was awarded to Niles company Mike Coates Construction, and work got underway in August 2016.

The Air Reserve Station indoor firing range project is being implemented in order to to better train and test airmen for qualifications with their service weapons for personal protection and ground base defense.

The existing range is 30 years old and fails to meet current safety requirements, officials said. They said the upgrade will correct serious deficiencies at the facility and improve the training that occurs at YARS.

While some unique differences probably exist in the two projects, we aren’t quite sure why it’s necessary for our federal legislators to allocate and spend more than $7 million each on two separate similar projects — firearms range training facilities — that are located about 35 miles — 45 minutes by car — apart.

Certainly, no one is objecting to the importance of having our military men and women well trained. But isn’t there a better way to consider sharing resources and saving taxpayer money?

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