Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

May 15 2018

Heitkamp, Minot Community Leaders Press Top Air Force Officials to Support & Strengthen Minot AFB’s Missions

In February, Heitkamp Successfully Led the Push to Prioritize Federal Funding for the Modernization of Minot’s B-52s

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today joined community leaders from Minot’s Task Force 21 for a meeting at the Pentagon with Under Secretary of the Air Force Matt Donovan and Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Jack Weinstein—  top  Air Force officials responsible for overseeing Minot Air Force base’s missions. They discussed the need to maintain and modernize Minot’s nuclear arsenal — a critical component of U.S. national security — and follow through on upgrades to B-52 bombers playing crucial nuclear deterrence and conventional missions.

Heitkamp also joined Task Force 21 in a meeting with the Air Force Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Installations, Environment and Energy to push for collaboration between the Air Force and local communities on mutually beneficial infrastructure projects.

Heitkamp is working with Air Force and community leaders to boost continued national support and federal funding for the base’s facilities, equipment, and military families. The Minot Air Force Base hosts both B-52 long-range strike bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) — the only location to host two vital components of the U.S. nuclear triad.

“As the United States faces a variety of global threats, the Pentagon needs to reinforce the importance of maintaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a vital aspect of our continued national security,” said Heitkamp. “The brave men and women at Minot Air Force Base work every day to strengthen our nuclear deterrent, and they deserve the best training and equipment possible to carry out their missions effectively—and that includes extending aircraft lifespan, reducing missile maintenance costs, and investing in new Huey helicopters. The informed and committed civic leaders of Task Force 21 have always been reliable partners in boosting local and national support for Minot’s mission, and that’s why I joined them at the Pentagon today to underscore the economic benefit of the base in the greater Minot area and the vital role it plays as we pursue our overall strategic national security goals to keep American communities strong and safe.”

Last week, Heitkamp outlined her national defense priorities to keep Americans safe in the face of rising threats across the globe, which includes strengthening investment in the strategic nuclear deterrent and modernizing Minot’s B-52s and ICBMs.

Heitkamp has long fought to protect and strengthen Minot’s missions. In January, Heitkamp led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for new or upgraded engines on the Air Force’s B-52s while the next generation of bomber is being developed. Following Heitkamp’s push, the Air Force announced that Minot Air Force Base will continue to host bomber missions and that the president’s budget included $280 million for B-52 bomber modernization, more than double the current level of funding.

And in March, Heitkamp called on Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to update the timeline on the replacement of Minot’s Vietnam-era UH-1N helicopters, which patrol and protect Minot’s ICBM missile sites. Additionally, in 2017, Heitkamp urged Defense Secretary Mattis to quickly replacing the aging helicopters.

Background

Heitkamp has also continued to champion Minot Air Force Base’s role in underpinning U.S. nuclear deterrence. She helped pass the defense authorization bill signed into law in 2017, which included support for modernizing the nation’s B-52s and ICBMs. And In September 2017, Heitkamp welcomed Defense Secretary James Mattis to Minot to support the servicemembers at the base and reassert the administration’s commitment to a modernized nuclear arsenal. Earlier that month, Heitkamp welcomed Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to Minot to stress the maintenance and modernization of Minot’s nuclear arsenal after Heitkamp secured a commitment from her to visit the state.

Additionally, Heitkamp has consistently pushed for Minot’s nuclear deterrence role as an aspect of the mutual defense of U.S. allies. 2017, Heitkamp crafted and passed a provision in the defense authorization bill to reassure America’s allies in its steadfast commitment to protecting against the North Korea nuclear threat. As North Korea continues to threaten regional stability, Heitkamp’s amendment makes clear that the United States stands ready to provide its full range of strategic capabilities in the defense of our allies.

Heitkamp also pushed for a Nuclear Posture Review that emphasizes the U.S. commitment to the nuclear triad and its fundamental role in national security. In February, the U.S. Department of Defense released its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which reflected all of the key recommendations in a report Heitkamp and the other members of the Senate ICBM Coalition released in December 2016. 

And in 2017, Heitkamp helped pass the defense authorization bill signed into law in 2017, which included support for modernizing Minot’s B-52s and ICBMs.

Heitkamp is a co-founder of the Senate Defense Communities Caucus and is a member of the Senate Long Range Strike Caucus and the Senate ICBM Coalition.

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Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov