Get in Line

Montana legislators have come forward to urge the Air Force to consider Malmstrom Air Force Base as a candidate to host the service’s new nuclear-centric command. There’s “no better place than Malmstrom” due to the base’s existing facilities and skilled pool of 5,000 airmen and civilian employees, Sen. Max Baucus (D) and Sen. Jon Tester (D) told Air Force Secretary Michael Donley Oct. 9, according to a joint release by both Senators. Malmstrom, on the outskirts of Great Falls, is home to the 341st Missile Wing, which oversees 150 Minuteman III ICBMs, one third of the nation’s land-based strategic missile force. Hosting the nuclear command’s headquarters at a base with a nuclear mission will allow the airmen there “to see the value of their service and the potential for significant career advancement firsthand,” Baucus and Tester said. The two Montana Senators join Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) who came forward one day before them to lobby the Air Force, in his case, for Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. Conrad said Minot would be a “natural fit” for the nuclear command headquarters since it is the nation’s only air base both with nuclear-capable bombers and a Minuteman III wing.