Tester, Walsh welcome good news for Malmstrom’s ICBMs

Air Force plans to evenly preserve ICBM silos across three bases

(MONTANA) – Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh today applauded news that the Air Force will evenly preserve nuclear missile silos across America’s three ICBM bases, including Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.

The Senators pushed the Air Force to keep an equal number of missiles at each of the three bases while keeping all silos operational, or “warm.” Some officials were concerned that Malmstrom would be unfairly affected by the redeployment.

Tester and Walsh say the announcement preserves the role of ICBMs as our nation’s most effective nuclear deterrent. They also mentioned the decision ensures that Malmstrom will continue playing a critical role safeguarding national security and will experience no subsequent personnel losses that could have impacted the north-central Montana economy.

“Today’s announcement keeps our national security strong and maintains Malmstrom Air Force Base’s critical role in our defense strategy,” said Tester, Chairman of the Senate ICBM Coalition. “Malmstrom will continue to keep Americans safe as we work to confront new challenges around the world.”

“Today’s news ensures that Malmstrom will continue its critical role in our nation’s defense,” Walsh said. “ICBMs continue to be the most cost-effective leg of our nuclear defenses and at a time of instability in eastern Europe, it is critical that the ICBM mission remains strong.”

Tester and Walsh have consistently supported Malmstrom’s ICBM mission. Tester authored 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.

The ICBM announcement is the result of the President reaching a decision on the U.S. strategic force structure to comply with the New START Treaty. While the ICBM force will see little change, the Air Force will reduce the number of nuclear-capable bombers and the Navy will field fewer submarine-launched weapons and nuclear bombers. To comply with the treaty, Russia is reducing its number of nuclear weapons by one-half compared to 2010 levels.