Daines opposes assessments on missile force
Congressman Steve Daines on Feb 20, called on the Department of Defense to immediately cease renewed efforts to perform an environmental assessment on the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force—one-third of which are located in Montana at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Despite funding for such a study explicitly being denied in FY2014 appropriations funding—efforts that Daines spearheaded in the House of Representatives– the Department of Defense has recently requested the U.S. Air Force to pursue an environmental assessment on the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile force.
Daines, on Feb. 20, spearheaded a letter, joined by Representatives Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO), to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel calling for the Department of Defense to “categorically cease from pursuing this misguided and premature action.”
“We are deeply concerned that moving forward with an environmental assessment could foreshadow ill-advised efforts to reduce our ICBM force beyond those required by the New START Treaty,” Daines wrote. “We are also concerned that beginning an ICBM environmental assessment could significantly damage the morale of airmen working on this crucial mission. We therefore request the Defense Department to withdraw its request for the Air Force to begin an environmental assessment.”
The Obama administration had previously requested funds in their 2014 budget proposal to do environmental impact studies of the nation’s ICBM fleet, which is widely seen as backdoor attempt to reduce our ICBM fleet.
Daines, a vocal advocate of protecting the ICBM mission at Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base, successfully worked this year to block funding for the requested environmental assessment. In December, Daines spearheaded a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee calling for the preclusion of such funds, and language reflecting Daines’ request was successfully included in the 2014 appropriations package.
Daines has also led efforts in the House to prevent the Obama administration from pursuing efforts to unilaterally reduce the nation’s nuclear arsenal, and successfully worked to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act instructing the Department of Defense to maintain the nation’s 450 ICBM silos in, at minimum, a warm status.
The United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal is divided into three elements: land-based missiles in silos, missiles aboard nuclear submarines, and nuclear bombers. Malmstrom Air Force Base currently maintains and secures 150 ICBMs across north-central Montana. The ICBM mission accounts for more than 40 percent of the economy in north-central Montana and contributes to approximately 5,000 jobs. F
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