Senators lobby Biden for Malmstrom

The Great Falls Tribune

U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both Montana Democrats, met with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday to make the case that a robust national defense means retaining all 450 U.S. land-based intercontinental missiles. Baucus and Tester told Biden that maintaining the nation’s current land-based force is a relatively cost-effective way to keep America’s national security strong.

They added that any further cuts might impact recruiting and the retention of highly skilled airmen and officers, according to a news release.

One third of the Minuteman III missiles are housed in underground silos throughout central Montana, under the control of Malmstrom Air Force Base. F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and Minot, AFB, N.D., also have 150 ICBMs each.

The Obama administration is working to complete a new nuclear-arms treaty with Russia, and Pentagon leaders are finishing a periodic analysis of the country’s nuclear force, called the Nuclear Posture Review.

Either development could lead to a reduction in the number of ICBMs in the U.S. A squadron of 50 Malmstrom Minuteman missiles was deactivated after the last Nuclear Posture Review.

“The missiles housed at Malmstrom are essential to America’s national defense,” Baucus said. “The men and women at Malmstrom play a key role in our national security.”

“For 50 years, Malmstrom’s airmen have worked tirelessly to make sure the world’s most powerful weapons remain secure and ready if, God forbid, the worst thing were to happen,” Tester said. “This is about keeping America safe and keeping our security tough and smart. We’ll keep working together to make sure folks in Washington understand how important it is to keep our missile force as strong as it is today.”