CANTON, SD (KELO) — A retired two-star general in Lincoln County wants the U.S. to go ahead and shoot-down that Chinese balloon that’s been spotted in Montana and heading east, within reach of South Dakota. Lynn Hartsell, of Canton, doesn’t buy China says balloon spotted over US is for research that was blown-off course.
This balloon has created such an international stir that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed a scheduled trip to China. Meanwhile, Lynn Hartsell, who has served in military theaters of Korea, Germany and the Persian Gulf, says it’s possible for that balloon to target Ellsworth Air Force Base.
The balloon is a high-altitude curiosity to people on the ground.
“This is so weird. It is not the moon you guys. The moon is right there.”
To the Pentagon, it’s a potential national security risk: a surveillance balloon possibly spying on air bases in Montana and North Dakota. And coming too close for comfort to South Dakota, according to retired General Lynn Hartsell.
“It wouldn’t take much for it to kind of swing a little bit south and shoot over Ellsworth,” Hartsell said.
Hartsell agrees with the U.S. State Department that the Chinese balloon is in direct violation of international law.
“A very bold and frankly audacious move on the part of the Chinese to do this. It’s kind of, in my mind, a slap in the face to the U.S.,” Hartsell said.
That’s why Hartsell says the U.S. needs to take immediate action.
“Quite frankly, I think the appropriate response would be to take it down once it got over an area that would not pose a danger to civilian life or property once debris hit the ground,” Hartsell said.
But the Pentagon has ruled out shooting down the balloon because of the potential danger to the public. Hartsell says if the U.S. does not take forceful action, it will only embolden China to push the envelope even further.
“It’s almost like we could have done it another way, but we want to put the balloon over your country just to show you we can do it and you won’t do anything about it,” Hartsell said.
In her weekly column that came out Friday, Governor Kristi Noem cited the balloon as another reason for states like South Dakota to defend against threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party. A bill in the legislature would restrict foreign purchases of farmland in South Dakota.