Critics of the Air Force's plan to put an electronic battlefield in the West Desert said Thursday the West Desert is too often viewed as a vast "vacuum" that is suitable for any project with potentially negative impacts.

Callao rancher Cecil Garland, whose impassioned battle against the MX missile gave him regional fame, joined Downwinders Inc. and the West Desert Range Association to criticize the plan at a press conference.This time, Garland aimed that same passionate rhetoric at his latest military target - the battlefield that is to begin operating at the Utah Test and Training Range in 1990.

The Air Force has told West Desert residents the battlefield will cause air traffic to increase 30 percent in the next decade.

"I've heard all the F-16s flying over my house at 50 feet above the treetops that I want to hear," Garland said. "I wish the country and the state of Utah would get over the idea that the West Desert is a waste area and a vacuum."

He criticized the mentality along the Wasatch Front that says, "If we don't want it here, stick it out on the West Desert." He cited hazardous waste, the MX missile and low-flying fighter planes as examples of that thinking.

Downwinders spokesmen did not oppose the battlefield itself but accused the Air Force of withholding related information from the public. They have filed a Freedom of Information request for land permit applications and maps they have heard exist.