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Assistant Secretary of Air Force tours Ellsworth AFB developments

Sen. Mike Rounds and Assistant Secretary Ravi Chaudhary spoke at the Box Elder City Hall after touring the base
C.J. Keene
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Sen. Mike Rounds and Assistant Secretary Ravi Chaudhary spoke at the Box Elder City Hall after touring the base

With the installation of the B-21 at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, the area’s population is expected to grow by as much as two percent per year.

That means plans need to be made now for the schools, housing, and roads newcomers will use when they get here.

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds was joined by Ravi Chaudhary, assistant secretary of the Air Force, for a tour of Ellsworth’s developments and to charter plans.

Chaudhary was asked about the direction of developments at Ellsworth.

“Simple, on the leading edge of where the Air Force is going, on the leading edge of the future," Chaudhary said. "You can’t say it more simply than that. We are in a time in which the challenges facing our nation are getting more and more complex, broader, but I can tell you this – this is an endeavor in which there are no points for second place.”

With Rapid City in the middle of elections, Chaudhary said he hopes future city leadership is ready to work with the federal government.

“We see the numbers are X, you see the numbers are Y – lets work together and get through that," Chaudhary said. "It may take a workshop or two to get through to that, but to me the answer is very simple. We have to continue to partner, regardless of the leadership that is elected.”

Rounds said the relationship between the base and the region can help Ellsworth reach its full potential.

“It has taken a partnership between local communities, the state, and the Air Force to not only maintain Ellsworth, but to see it grow into what is going to be one of its premier bases in the United States today," Rounds said. "It’s a partnership and it says that the community is behind the base, and the base understands how much the community wants to be a part of it. We want that same attitude to continue forward.”

Rounds said the nation needs projects like the B-21 to both defend itself and deter potential future conflicts.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture