Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and Sen. Jon Tester, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense chairman, visited Malmstrom Air Force Base May 21 to learn more about the strategic importance of the installation and to discuss the future of nuclear deterrence.
The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile has been on alert for more than 50 years, and Brown has emphasized modernizing the Air Force across the board, including the most responsive leg of the nuclear triad.
“A safe, secure and reliable nuclear deterrent allows the nation to negotiate from a position of power, provides the United States and our allies with an umbrella of protection, and discourages aggression worldwide,” Brown said.
While the Minuteman III ICBM remains safe, secure, reliable and effective, ready to defend the United States and its allies, modernization now is critical to stay ahead of near-peer competitors. The Air Force is in the process of replacing the weapon system with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. The GBSD is not only a new missile, but optimized with fully-integrated launch, flight and infrastructure systems with modern command and control features.
“We’re looking at GBSD starting in ’26, finishing in ’36. Cheyenne (Wyoming) will be first, Malmstrom (AFB) will be second, and Minot (AFB) will be third. That is going to have to move forward because that is critically important for the country’s defense,” Tester said.
The 341st Missile Wing’s vision is to have the most dominant nuclear-capable force in the world, ready at all times to employ the most powerful weapon system in human existence.
“The advantage of global strike provides a critical backstop for our diplomats and reassurance to our allies and partners. Regardless of the aircraft, weapon, or system, we must modernize in order to maintain our strike capability… anytime, anywhere,” Brown said.
During the visit Brown, Ray and Tester also had a chance to see the base’s facilities and mission first-hand and talk with the Airmen who make installation’s no-fail mission possible.
“Proud to have United States Air Force top leadership with me at Malmstrom Air Force Base today to see just how hard Montana service members work to keep our nation secure,” Tester said. “As Chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I’ll always fight to ensure they’ve got the tools needed to continue keeping us safe.”