Senators talk up Malmstrom to general

Great Falls Tribune

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus, both Montana Democ¬rats, met Tuesday with the new commanding general overseeing Malmstrom Air Force Base to dis¬cuss its importance to America’s national security.

They likely didn’t have to explain too much about the base to Maj. Gen. Don Alston, who will assume command July 1 of the 20th Air Force, which is responsi¬ble for maintaining and operating America’s three intercontinental ballistic missile bases, including Malmstrom. After all, Alston has been stationed at the Great Falls base three times during his career: as a missile squadron commander from 1993 to 1994, as operations commander from 1999 to 2001, and as missile wing commander in 2003 and 2004.

In the latter position, Alston, who still had two children in grade school, vowed to show air¬men how to balance long work hours with their personal lives.

“Spending time with your fam¬ily is important to them and can make you more effective in your mission, too,” he said, recounting how spending time at his chil¬dren’s soccer and basketball games gave him perspective on life.

Tester, a member of the Air Force Coalition and the Intercon¬tinental Ballistic Missile Coali¬tion, and Alston discussed Malm¬strom’s role within the ICBM force and possible ways to increase the Air Force’s presence at Malmstrom.

“General Alston knows Malm¬strom very well, and I’m glad to have him in this critically impor¬tant job,” Tester said in a news release. “I look forward to work¬ing with him and other senior leaders to keep the Air Force at Malmstrom for a long time to come.”

“It’s great to have a command¬er that knows Great Falls,” Bau¬cus said in a separate release. “Malmstrom is vitally important to our national security and vital to the Great Falls community — General Alston gets that. I look forward to working with General Alston to continue to invest in ICBMs, and to determine the best path forward to keep Malmstrom strong.”

Alston was a leading Defense Department expert during the recent Nuclear Posture Review and is considered an Air Force expert on nuclear policies. He will replace Maj. Gen. Roger Burg, and will be stationed at F.E. War¬ren Air Force Base, Wyo.