A former 5th Bomb Wing commander at Minot Air Force Base and now consultant for Minot's base retention and new mission committee, urged local people to be optimistic about the base being selected for the headquarters of the new nuclear command.
Minot AFB is among six bases vying for the headquarters site of the new Global Strike Command, which will oversee the Air Force's nuclear enterprise. Air Force officials are expected to announce in June the permanent location for the new command.
"The competition out there shouldn't be taken lightly," said retired Maj. Gen. Greg Power, consultant for Task Force 21, at a news conference held Monday in the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Eloise Ogden/MDN •
Retired Maj. Gen. Greg Power gestures as he makes a point about Minot Air Force Base as one of the six candidates for the headquarters of the new Global Strike Command. Power, consultant for Task Force 21, Minot’s base retention and new mission committee, spoke Monday at a news conference in the Minot Municipal Auditorium.
Power, who has been Task Force 21's consultant for about 14 months, said the other five bases vying for the headquarters of the new command also have their own set of qualifications that they will tout as they work to garner the headquarters.
"While I have no predictions on our chances here at Minot to secure the headquarters because there obviously are some great arguments that are going to be made by our competition, I would like to just say let's stay optimistic," Power said.
He said everything will be done that can be done to show the Air Force that Minot the city and Minot the Air Force Base will be a great combination for the new headquarters.
"And then we'll leave it up to Air Force leadership to make their decision," Power said.
Power said the state's congressional delegation will certainly monitor the decision cycle and be involved as necessary.
"But I think our role as the Task Force is to provide the information provide the facts and then let the leadership of the Air Force make their decision," he said.
Power pointed out that Minot AFB is the only base with two nuclear commitments B-52 bombers and Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. "I would say what better place than Minot being the only base of the six finalists that has two of the three nuclear legs of the triad," he said.
Power knows the base quite well. He was the 5th Bomb Wing commander from July 1998 to February 2000. His son, now a captain in the Air Force, also was stationed at the Minot base for three and a half years with the 91st Space Wing, now 91st Missile Wing. Power retired from the Air Force in 2006 and now lives in the Raleigh-Chapel Hill area in North Carolina.
As part of the work to inform military leaders about Minot AFB, Power said that he and Task Force 21 representatives have a meeting scheduled in about two weeks with the provisional commander of Global Strike Command.
At that meeting he said they will talk about the value of Minot AFB and the value of the Minot community. "And what a great place for Global Strike Command this place would be," he said.
He said they are in continual contact with North Dakota's congressional delegation.
"You are very blessed in this state with two terrific senators and a wonderful congressman who have been watching over this state and this community for many, many years," Power said. He said Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Rep. Earl Pomeroy all realize the base would be an ideal location for the new command.
Power pointed out that a noteworthy plus for the Minot base is its new housing.
"I can tell you over the last 10 years virtually every base house that was here when I left here nine years ago has been torn down and new ones have been built with new modern homes. Military construction money that your congressional delegation was able to fund in the budget made this all possible," he said.
Second B-52 wing
Power said according to the latest information on the Minot base getting the second squadron of B-52s "it's on track" and should be "standing up" in a few months.
"But, of course, with the new administration in Washington I know there's reviews going on right now looking at the nuclear enterprise across our Department of Defense and President Obama might have some ideas that we haven't anticipated yet so we're just going to play by ear. But in the meantime everything is progressing on schedule at this time for that new bomb squadron," Power said.