Montana's U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus secured an important victory for national security and Montana jobs in the 2014 Defense budget released last week. At Tester and Baucus' urging, the budget includes investments to modernize and sustain the nation's ICBM force through 2030, which the Senators specifically called for in a recent letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Tester and Baucus have consistently urged the White House to maintain a robust ICBM force, most recently pointing to threats from North Korea as one more reason to maintain a strong nuclear weapons arsenal for deterrence. Baucus and Tester strongly support Malmstrom Air Force Base's ICBM mission, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the economy in north-central Montana and contributes to approximately 5,000 jobs.
The senators reiterated the importance of a strong ICBM force at a recent hearing he called to examine the budget.
"Making sure ICBMs are ready to protect our country is common-sense. With threats from North Korea and elsewhere, we must remember the critical role our missiles play in keeping America safe. Now is not the time to lose sight of the need for a strong and modernized ICBM force," said Tester.
"The budget makes important investments in keeping America safe by sustaining the current ICBM force through 2030. I led the Senate ICBM caucus in a letter to Defense Secretary Hagel last week calling for this. North Korea's recent actions have sent a clear wakeup call to the White House. A strong ICBM force is the best deterrence strategy to keep America safe, and it also gives us the most deterrence for our money," Baucus told the committee.
The United States' nuclear weapons arsenal is divided into three elements: land-based missiles in silos and missiles aboard submarines and bombers. Inter-continental ballistic missiles are the most cost-effective leg of the triad because they cost less to maintain.
The Senators, who have a long-record of support for Malmstrom's ICBM mission, recently called Malmstrom's missiles the "centerpiece of America's defense strategy."