Hoeven Meets with Minot Air Force Base Leaders to Address Ongoing Priorities for Base Missions

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven met today with Minot Air Force Base leaders to review and work on priorities important to the base. The base is in a growth mode because of the Nuclear Force Improvement Program (NFIP), and the senator is working to modernize and support the base so it can continue serving as a vital part of nation’s defense.

Hoeven met with Col. Jason Armagost, Commander, 5th Bomb Wing; Col. Michael Lutton, Commander, 91st Missile Wing; Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Stiles, Superintendent, 5th Medical Group and 5th Bomb Wing and Chief Master Sgt. Felicia Noil, Command Chief, 91st Missile Wing.

“Our men and women at Minot Air Force Base do a tremendous job defending our nation, and I remain committed to working to ensure that the base’s servicemembers and civilian workforce have all the tools, equipment and support they need while the base is in this important growth mode,” said Hoeven. “Today’s meeting with the base’s new leaders offered a good opportunity to address some of the challenges impacting Minot Air Force Base, and I am committed to working to make sure we secure the resources needed to support the base’s missions, both today and in the future, by modernizing missions and providing for the personnel needed to operate the base.”

Pushing for Nuclear Force Improvement, B-52 Modernization

Hoeven has been working with Air Force officials to authorize and fund a number of initiatives to improve the nation’s nuclear fleet, weapons systems and facilities. Earlier this month, the senator met with Maj. Gen. Scott A. Vander Hamm, Commander of the Eighth Air Force based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., as part of his efforts to modernize the nation’s B-52 fleet and to get a briefing on the Nuclear Force Improvement Program (NFIP).

Vander Hamm is responsible for maintaining the B-52 and B-2 fleets and oversees the nuclear deterrence operations of the two aircraft. The NFIP will focus on the nation’s B-52 fleet, as well as the intercontinental ballistic missile force. At Minot Air Force Base, which is home to both missile and B-52 bomber wings, improvements mean modernizing alert facilities, expanding and improving B-52 hangers and upgrading weapons storage areas. Hoeven has been working through the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure necessary funding for upgrades to the B-52 fleet that will extend the aircrafts’ working life for another 30 years.

Addressing Civilian Pay and Increasing Personnel

Hoeven and the leaders also discussed the issue of pay rates for civilian personnel at Minot Air Force Base. The senator agreed with wing commanders that the issue is vital to operations at Minot.

“The civilian workforce at the base is critical to making the base function and to supporting the missions performed by those in uniform,” said Hoeven. “Pay rates for these workers should be competitive with the vibrant local economy, and I look forward to working with the base commanders to address pay issues and maintain the best possible civilian workforce for Minot Air Force Base.”

In June Hoeven announced that as a result of a new initiative an estimated 1,000 personnel will be added to the Global Strike Command, which is comprised of five bases, including the Minot Air Force Base. This development means a number of new personnel will be stationed in Minot, including many senior NCO positions which require skills in security, maintenance and operational logistics.

Working to Support Air Force Modernization

Hoeven and the base leaders reviewed several modernization programs that will affect Minot’s B-52 and ICBM missions, including work on the nuclear cruise missile. Hoeven recently announced that he worked to include several provisions in the Fiscal Year DoD Appropriations bill, which was approved by the committee last week, that support Minot Air Force Base priorities. The legislation maintains the nation’s nuclear forces and modernizes the B-52 bomber fleet, it:

• Directs DoD to maintain the ICBM force and the nuclear capable bomber force at the maximum level allowed under the New START Treaty. That means retaining all missile silos and maintaining the nuclear capable bomber fleet at 66 aircraft.

• Provides funding for the ICBM force at the DoD-requested level.

• Provides $21.6 million for the Nuclear Force Improvement Program to refurbish ICBM launch control centers, improve access roads, and replace and upgrade basic equipment used by ICBM and nuclear security forces personnel.

• Provides funding to modernize and enhance the B-52 bomber fleet including $6.3 million to finalize upgrades for the B-52 anti-skid landing gear system.

• Directs the Air Force to upgrade aging radars on the B-52 bomber.

Minot Air Force Base is the only location in the United States to host two legs of the nation’s triad of nuclear delivery systems. Minot hosts nuclear B-52 bombers and is one of three bases to operate and maintain ICBMs.

Hoeven is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Construction.