Tester meets with Air Force Secretary, addresses issues at Malmstrom
Senator and Secretary James discuss violations, pledge to keep base strong
(GREAT FALLS, Mont.) – Senator Tester today met with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in Great Falls to discuss recent reports of cheating and drug abuse at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Tester and James pledged to get to the bottom of the issue while supporting the base’s critical mission and keeping Malmstrom strong. Malmstrom is one of three U.S. bases that have intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and has defended America’s national security for decades.
“Malmstrom is a key part of our national defense and has been a partner for the Great Falls community for generations,” Tester said. “The vast majority of Airmen are honorable and make a real difference, but this news raises serious questions that must be addressed. We must re-double our efforts to maintain Malmstrom’s long-standing excellence, while holding our Airmen to the high standards required by our national security demands.”
James assured Tester that she and the Malmstrom commanders are taking the violations seriously and will work to restore morale among the Airmen.
Tester’s long-standing efforts in support of Great Falls include a recent letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warning him against cutting funding for the ICBM force in the upcoming budget request. Tester told Hagel that the nation’s ICBM force is the most cost-effective part of the country’s nuclear defense.
Tester has fought to maintain a strong ICBM force at Malmstrom and throughout the country. As a leader of the ICBM Coalition, he successfully blocked a provision in the recent government funding bill that would have allowed the Air Force to proceed with a study that could have led to the elimination of an entire squadron of 50 ICBM silos.
Tester’s full letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is available below. Other members of the Senate ICBM Coalition who signed Tester’s letter to Hagel are Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), and Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).