Baucus-Tester measure paves way for possible Malmstrom, MANG partnership
Senators’ ‘active association’ amendment clears Congress
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Pentagon will have to report to Congress on the possibility of teaming up Malmstrom Air Force Base with the Montana Air National Guard (MANG), under an amendment authored by Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.
The Senate agreed to the Baucus-Tester amendment this afternoon before overwhelmingly passing the Defense Reauthorization Act, with a vote of 92-3.
The Baucus-Tester amendment requires the Air Force to look into the feasibility of establishing an "active association" with MANG before the military deactivates the last ten Minuteman III missiles in the 564th Missile Squadron. The Pentagon began to make good on its 2005 plan to deactivate the 50-missle squadron earlier this year, cutting Malmstrom's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile arsenal from 200 to 150.
The most likely active association arrangement would increase the number of MANG F-15s in the 120th Fighter Wing from 18 to 24. The additional pilots and mechanics would work out of Malmstrom, bringing an estimated 100 new jobs to Great Falls.
Another possible scenario would be to move MANG across Great Falls to Malmstrom—a move that would require the Air Force to reopen Malmstrom's runway.
"We're going to fight hard for whatever is best for Malmstrom, MANG, Great Falls, and all the folks who serve in our military," Baucus said. "An active association could be a win-win for our national security and for new good-paying jobs. This amendment will make sure nobody rules it out."
"When we talk about Montana's military future, I want to make sure all options are on the table," Tester said. "If a partnership between Malmstrom and MANG is feasible, and it brings good jobs to Montana, and it makes our state and nation more secure, what are we waiting for?"
Baucus and Tester drafted the amendment based on advice from the Montana Air National Guard.
Both senators rigorously opposed the deactivation of the 564th Missile Squadron and have vowed to continue searching for a second mission for Malmstrom.