Members of the powerful Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee have decided to allot no money to preserve 18 attrition reserve B-52H bombers residing at Minot AFB, N.D. The Air Force has asked Congress to grant permission to put these 18 bombers in storage, along with another 20 BUFFs it wants to retire, but North Dakota politicians have fought back. The state’s Congressional delegation insists that the B-52 is the most cost-effective bomber in the force, and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) declared that he will pursue all avenues to secure enough funding to prevent the Air Force from retiring any B-52s. The panel’s decision is not final and could be overturned at several points before the appropriations bill becomes law.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.