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Committee hears testimony on bill relating to deadly force when protecting nuclear assets

Submitted Photo U.S. Air Force members of the 219th Security Forces Squadron Tech. Sgt. Darin Morrison, left, and Staff Sgt. Wayne Fawcett walk to the gate of a missile alert facility in the Minot Air Force Base missile field complex, near Minot June 14, 2017, shown in this photo by U.S. Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp

BISMARCK – Testimony was given on Thursday before the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee on SB 2116, a bill for a new subsection to a section of the North Dakota Century Code relating to the use of deadly force when protecting nuclear assets. The act is declared to be an emergency measure.

Introduced by the Government and Veterans Affairs Committee at the request of the adjutant general, the Senate bill passed in second reading by a vote of 46-0 on Jan. 12.

It states “a member of the armed forces is justified in using deadly force when it reasonably appears to be necessary to prevent the loss, theft, destruction, sabotage, or unauthorized control of a nuclear weapon, critical nuclear component, or nuclear explosive device.”

Maj. Greg Goodman, commander of the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 219th Security Forces Squadron, said in testimony on Thursday in support of SB 2116 that the bill “provides a legal authority for the reasonable use of deadly force to protect nuclear assets.”

SB 2116 “allows for a narrow expansion of authority to use deadly force to protect nuclear assets, should the situation require it. This would allow our North Dakota Air National Guard members the ability to respond in the nuclear missile field under the full protection of State law the ability to protect these vital national security assets, “ Goodman stated in his testimony.

Submitted Photo U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Brunell runs into position during a training exercise at a launch facility in the Minot Air Force Base missile field complex, near Minot, June 15, 2017, shown in this photo by U.S. Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp.

Airmen of the N.D. Air National Guard’s 219th Security Forces Squadron work side by side with active-duty security forces airmen at Minot Air Force Base.

Since several years ago as part of a partnership with Minot AFB, the 219th has been providing security to the missile complex of Minot AFB’s 91st Missile Wing while working jointly with its active-duty counterparts.

The 219th was the first Air Guard security forces unit working in the missile field role with an Air Force base.

The Air National Guard unit has 139 authorized personnel, 59 full time and 80 part time or traditional Guard members.

Of this group, 123 are security forces personnel, directly impacted by the law while performing their security mission in the missile field, according to Goodman.

Submitted Photo U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Arnold, of the 219th Security Forces Squadron, conducts a search of a launch facility during a training exercise in the Minot Air Force Base missile field complex, near Minot, June 15, 2017, shown in this photo by U.S. Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp.

Lt. Col. Michelle Hagel, legal counsel for the N.D. National Guard, said in testimony on Thursday, “Because of this gap in federal and state law when protecting the nuclear asset, the Air Force will not allow the 219 members into the field field to train in a Title 32 status, as they will not take any risk with our Airmen. If the Air Force does not allow our members to train in the missile field, the 219 members will lose their certification. As a result, the 219 will not be able to perform their mission. Consequently, we run the risk of losing the mission.

“We are asking for a narrow expansion of authority to use deadly force to protect these nuclear assets, if the situation requires. This authority works in conjunction with Federal law and would allow the 219 members to continue to train and protect these critical national security assets, under the protection of State law,” Hagel said in her testimony.

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