Hoeven, Minot Air Force Base Commander Discuss Challenges, Future Direction of Base

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today met with Col. James Dawkins, Commander of Minot Air Force Base’s 5th Bomb Wing, to discuss progress on base projects and challenges confronting the facility due to rapid economic growth in the region and last year’s severe flooding.

“Our men and women at the Minot Air Force Base do an outstanding job for our nation, tasked with two major missions in the defense of our nation,” Hoeven said. “We’re working very hard in support of the base to ensure that they retain and strengthen those missions.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Military Construction, Hoeven worked to pass the FY 2012 Defense Appropriations bill in December, which includes measures to strengthen the nation’s nuclear triad and authorizes projects that are directly benefiting Minot Air Force Base.

In support of the nation’s nuclear defenses, the Senate appropriated more than $500 million for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) procurement, research and development. That includes funding for modification to the Minuteman III, missile replacement equipment and other technical upgrades to the strategic nuclear force, as well as funding for missile engineering and manufacturing development.

In addition, the Senate appropriated $94 million to modify the B-52 bomber aircraft fleet, including the launch of a program to enable the aircraft to carry smart weapons internally in its bomb bay, rather than on the wing, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and range.

Minot Air Force Base is home to both ICBM and B-52 missions. The base will also benefit from several other maintenance and construction projects, including authorization for a new 128-room dormitory. Ground has been broken for a fourth new dormitory and 160 new units are expected to come on line next year. A fifth dorm is planned for the 2014 construction season. He also said the first leg of a plan to renovate and repair the base’s runways is also underway, as well as several maintenance projects for the B-52 fleet.

The new housing is timely in light of challenges resulting from last year’s flooding and the ongoing economic growth in the region’s energy sector, and Dawkins said he expects it to get better over the course of the year.