Recent news from Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) has cast a spotlight on a potential espionage balloon traversing Eastern Montana’s skies. This airborne intruder, hovering at an elevation of 57,000 feet, was tracked by Dawson County residents, igniting a wave of concerns about national security and transparency in handling such incidents.
Rep. Rosendale, who helms the newly-minted 2nd Congressional District of Montana, voiced strong concerns about the seeming absence of openness surrounding the incident. On Monday, he tweeted, “I contacted DoD and was informed that they are aware, but due to the size of the balloon and the low probability that it is conducting surveillance, they will not be investigating.”
“If the spy balloon in February taught us anything, it’s that Montanans are vigilant and want to know what is flying over our state AND will expose the Biden Administration for not protecting us!”
Last night, several people in Dawson County were tracking a balloon flying across Eastern Montana at 57,000 feet.
I contacted DoD and was informed that they are aware, but due to the size of the balloon and the low probability that it is conducting surveillance, they will not… pic.twitter.com/IY9JYpwW9i
— Matt Rosendale (@RepRosendale) June 26, 2023
A similar event in February 2023, wherein a spy balloon of Chinese origin was shot down over South Carolina after flying over Montana, lends context to the recent incident. This occurrence prompted a wider probe into the phenomenon of Chinese spy balloons led by U.S. Senator Jon Tester, who suggested that the flight path of these balloons over states with intercontinental ballistic missiles was far from coincidental.
Despite the potential security implications, the Pentagon opted not to down the recent balloon sighting, citing no immediate threat to civilians and conjecturing its purpose as likely surveillance. This decision, coupled with previous instances, has intensified calls from Montanans and their representatives for increased transparency and decisive action from the federal government.
Sen. Tester has pointed out the necessity of devising a comprehensive policy to address such episodes, underlining the potential hazards these aerial objects could pose to commercial and civilian flights. He called for a more financially feasible solution, considering that shooting down such objects involves missile costs upwards of $400,000.
According to Tester, these balloon incidents are but a piece of a larger puzzle, as part of China’s multifaceted effort to destabilize and dethrone America as the world’s leading economic power. Beyond merely spying, China’s tactics also reportedly involve the spread of disinformation.
Rosendale has been proactive in seeking more clarity and action. He has initiated communication with the Commanding Officer at Malmstrom Air Force base for additional details and sought a briefing from the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. Montana’s citizens, in their characteristic vigilance, continue to hold their leaders accountable, seeking answers and action as they keep a close eye on the skies above them.