U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today released the following statement following the U.S. Department of Defense's release of its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which examines current nuclear defense capabilities and sets the administration's priorities for future U.S. nuclear strategy.
"As long as our adversaries continue to build and maintain nuclear weapons in large numbers, a nuclear arsenal will remain an essential component of defending our nation and deterring rivals from attacking us or our closest allies. The U.S. nuclear arsenal is one of our country's toughest and smartest national security tools-- and the brave airmen and women at Minot will continue to play a vital role in this important mission.
"The Nuclear Posture Review released today demonstrates the administration's commitment to modernizing our nuclear missions and maintains the consensus across administrations that a safe, secure, and effective nuclear force should remain the top national security priority. This strategy will strengthen the nuclear triad-- including the intercontinental ballistic missiles and B-52s at Minot -- and will continue ambitious efforts to make sure our warheads, infrastructure, and command systems are up to the task of keeping American communities strong and safe. As the Pentagon implements this strategy, I will keep pressing for modernization that promotes cost-effective, flexible, responsive, and stabilizing nuclear capabilities."
Earlier this week, Senator Heitkamp led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for new or upgraded engines on the Air Force's B-52s-- including those at Minot--while the next generation of bomber is being developed.
Heitkamp has long advocated for Minot Air Force Base's role in underpinning U.S. nuclear deterrence. She helped pass the defense authorization bill signed into law in 2017, which included support for modernizing the nation's B-52s and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Additionally, the bill extended special pay and bonus authorities for nuclear officers at Minot.
And In September 2017, Heitkamp welcomed Defense Secretary James Mattis to Minot to support the servicemembers at the base and reassert the administration's commitment to a modernized nuclear arsenal. Earlier that month, Heitkamp welcomed Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to Minot to stress the maintenance and modernization of Minot's B-52s and ICBMs after Heitkamp secured a commitment from her to visit the state.
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review reflects all of the key recommendations in a report Heitkamp and the other members of the Senate ICBM Coalition released in December 2016.