Hoeven Calls on DOD Secretary to Reaffirm Commitment to Nation's Nuclear Triad at Task Force 21 Nuclear Conference

Defense Secretary Carter to Discuss Future of Nation’s Nuclear Capability in Minot Monday

WASHINGTON – In remarks before the 2016 Task Force 21 Triad Conference, Senator John Hoeven today called on U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to reaffirm the department’s commitment to modernizing the nation’s nuclear triad.

Hoeven made the call ahead of Carter’s scheduled visit Monday to Minot Air Force Base, home to both the B-52 bombers of the 5th Bomb Wing and the Minutemen Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) of the 91st Missile Wing. The secretary is scheduled to deliver a speech on the future of America’s nuclear capability.

“I’m very pleased that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is coming to Minot Air Force Base, where only the best come north,” Hoeven said. “Several months ago, I put together a bipartisan letter signed by fourteen senators asking the defense secretary to talk about his commitment to updating the nuclear triad, so it’s very good that he’s coming to Minot Air Force Base, the only dual nuclear base in the country to talk about updating and modernizing our nuclear triad.”

Hoeven, a member of both the ICBM and Air Force caucuses, also told the group that Congress has proven itself to be strongly supportive of modernization, but the nation needs an administration committed to working with the Senate and House to ensure that each component of the triad is modernized on schedule and within the budgets they develop. He stressed that Senate support for nuclear modernization is strong, and the next administration shouldn’t hesitate on nuclear issues.

In July, Hoeven organized a bipartisan letter calling on Carter to clarify the DOD’s position on the modernization effort. The letter came in response to several statements by the president and others suggesting the Obama administration is backing away from support for the nuclear modernization program, which Hoeven has strongly advocated.

Hoeven and the senators said the three legs of the nuclear triad – land-based missiles, bombers and nuclear submarines – combine to form a very effective deterrent. However, they’re aging and must be modernized to ensure this interlocking triad continues its decades-long record of protecting the nation and deterring adversaries.

“We are grateful for your past support in the effort to modernize the triad, and we hope you can reassure us of the Department’s support for the ongoing modernization agenda,” they wrote. “We look forward to your response and to continuing to work with you to ensure the United States retains a safe, reliable and effective deterrent for the foreseeable future.”

In addition to Hoeven, signatories of the letter include: Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), David Vitter (R-La.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Deb Fischer R-Neb.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

The complete text of the letter can be found here.