Tester, Walsh praise decision to keep Malmstroms ICBM silos operational
All 454 U.S. silos will maintain warm status
(U.S. SENATE) - Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh today praised the Defense Department's decision to keep the nation's 454 ICBM silos operational, securing Malmstrom Air Force Base's critical role in protecting the nation's security.
"Today's announcement is a big win for our nation's security and for Malmstrom Air Force Base and north-central Montana," said Tester, co-chairman of the Senate ICBM Coalition. "ICBMs are the most cost-effective nuclear deterrent, and keeping silos warm is a smart decision and the kind of common-sense Montanans expect from their leaders."
"Today's news is welcome, but the fight is not over, and I will be on the frontline to make sure Malmstrom continues to play an important role in our nation's defense," Walsh said. "ICBMs continue to be the most cost-effective part of our nuclear defenses and at a time of instability in eastern Europe, it is critical that the ICBM mission remains strong."
Keeping silos on warm status ensures that they remain under the watch of Malmstrom's security and maintenance personnel.
The Senators also recently announced that the Defense Department would halt its plans to conduct an environmental assessment that many considered the first step to closing missile silos.
Tester, a member of the Appropriations Committee, included a provision in this year's defense appropriations bill prohibiting the department from conducting any environmental assessment on the effects of eliminating ICBM silos. He and Walsh recently reinforced the importance of Montana's ICBM fleet to Air Force Secretary Deborah James.
Today's announcement is the result of the President reaching a decision on the U.S. strategic force structure to comply with the New START Treaty. The announcement also detailed U.S. plans for reductions in submarine-launched nuclear weapons as well as a decrease in the nuclear bomber fleet. To comply with the treaty, Russia is reducing its number of nuclear warheads by nearly one-half compared to 2010 levels.
New START cuts must be fully implemented by February 2018.