U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today issued the following statement about the Nuclear Force Improvement Program Board meeting at Minot Air Force Base, and emphasized her support for our nation's nuclear mission in Minot.
U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh are visiting Minot Air Force Base for this meeting. Last fall, Heitkamp joined then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Air Force Secretary James at Minot Air Force Base where they discussed with several hundred servicemembers their strong support for a robust nuclear deterrent force, the importance of our nation's nuclear mission, and the need to improve the lives of military personnel who work within our nuclear enterprise. During this visit, Secretary Hagel committed to investing billions of dollars to maintain and modernize our nation's nuclear forces, and noted the need for additional investments to improve and sustain infrastructure and equipment, boost troop morale, and increase oversight to modernize nuclear forces.
Heitkamp has consistently worked to protect resources for nuclear forces in North Dakota and across the country. As a member of the U.S. Senate's ICBM Coalition, Heitkamp continues to advocate for the deterrent our nuclear forces provide in protecting our national security.
"Our brave men and women serving in our nuclear forces right here in Minot are vital to maintaining our national security," said Heitkamp. "It is absolutely critical that we continue to modernize our nuclear forces and support the service members who maintain this critical mission. When I joined then-Defense Secretary Hagel and Secretary of the Air Force James in Minot last fall, I spoke with them more about the need to improve resources and to boost moral for our nuclear forces and civilian workers on the Base, and I was very encouraged by the investments and initiatives Secretary Hagel discussed with our troops. Today I'm glad Secretary James is back in Minot along with Air Force Chief of Staff General Welsh, to see up close the progress our servicemembers in Minot have made and what we need to do to keep improving. I'll keep working to make sure our nuclear and civilian forces at Minot Air Force Base get the proper recognition and support they need to continue their crucial work that keeps us all safe."
Heitkamp has been a strong defender of ICBMs since joining the Senate, and as a co-founder of the bipartisan Senate Defense Communities Caucus, she has consistently worked to find innovative solutions to improve conditions for military, their families, and the communities they serve.
Vocally opposing past unwarranted efforts to reduce our nuclear forces, Heitkamp and her colleagues in the bipartisan Senate ICBM coalition successfully convinced the Department of Defense to back off a plan to potentially reduce the number of ICBM silos. Last year, Heitkamp opposed unwarranted reductions to America's nuclear arsenal levels.
In May, Heitkamp reinforced her support for a vigorous ICBM force and for servicemembers at Minot Air Force Base and across the country, in a meeting with Major General Jack Weinstein, the commander responsible for leading our nation's ICBM force and more than 9,600 Air Force personnel.
That same month, Heitkamp welcomed the U.S. Air Force Base's decision and Secretary James' recommendation to improve the lives of servicemembers as well as our nation's nuclear mission by elevating the Global Strike Command commander to a four-star general from the previous three-star rank. This past summer, Heitkamp met with met with the 91st Missile Wing Commander Colonel Michael Lutton and reiterated her commitment to providing Lutton and servicemembers with the necessary resources and support to continue their invaluable work.