Conrad, Hoeven Call on Defense Secretary to Maintain ICBM Fleet

Minot's Missile Arsenal is Cost Effective and Critical to Nation's Nuclear Deterrant, Senators say

Washington – Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven were joined by a bipartisan group of their colleagues today to make the case for maintaining the current force structure of the nation’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), including those stationed at Minot Air Force Base.


In a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta from the Senate ICBM Coalition, Senators Conrad and Hoeven stressed that the  ICBM force serves a critical role as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. Additionally, they argued that since efforts to modernize the ICBM force are almost complete, it will be cost-effective to maintain the Minuteman III fleet over the next two decades.


“As the Administration seeks to implement the New START Treaty, it is distressing to hear some argue for a significant reduction, or even abandonment, of our ICBM force.  We believe such an unprecedented reversal of our long-held and successful nuclear deterrent strategy is unwise and would create an unnecessary strategic danger.   Accordingly, we continue to strongly support the deployment of 450 ICBMs,” the Senators wrote.


If the Administration moves forward with its plan for implementing the New START Treaty, which was ratified by the Senate on December 22, 2010, the letter asks that the Department of Defense maintain on alert the maximum number of ICBMs allowed under that plan, 420, with reductions coming equally from each base.


As the federal government works to set itself on a more sustainable long-term fiscal path, efforts to find savings government-wide are underway, prompting every agency – including the Department of Defense - to streamline their budgets. The letter makes clear that such savings must not come at the cost of our nation’s strategic deterrent.


Minot Air Force Base is home to 150 ICBMs, one-third of the nation’s ICBM force.


Senator Conrad is the co-chair of the Senate ICBM Coalition. Senator Hoeven is a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. 


Senators Conrad and Hoeven were joined on the letter by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Max Baucus (D-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Barasso (R-WY) and Michael Lee (R-UT).