Strategic deterrence critical for our nation

“Amidst life’s complexities, it’s essential to discern what truly matters and focus our energy on those important things.” Anon

Minot Area Chamber EDC Task Force 21 (TF21) educates the local community, North Dakota officials, members of Congress and the public on national security issues, particularly ones that affect Minot Air Force Base (Minot AFB), the U.S. Air Force, and our nuclear deterrent. As a citizen of Minot, and the volunteer chair of TF21 for almost a quarter century, I have watched from days of Strategic Air Command through a peace dividend period of taking our strategic deterrent nuclear triad for granted with unfortunate consequences, to a realization that the three legs of the triad needed significant ecapitalization/modernization.

Twelve years ago, TF21 began an annual TF21 Nuclear Triad Symposium in Washington, D.C. The purpose is to educate and have an exchange of ideas about the threats the nation faces and the best path forward, bringing together the best experts from the military, policy organizations, defense industry, Congress, and academia. Today the question of whether to modernize the nuclear triad is largely resolved, and Congress has established programs of record to move forward.

The world continues to change and a unanimous report published late last fall by the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States (hereafter Commission) composed of six Republican and six Democratic appointees, clearly points out that we may not be doing enough given the state of the world and strides our potential adversaries have made in recent years. In the 2027-2035 period the Commission considered, we will be faced with two peer adversaries, China and Russia. The Commission states, “Russia’s criminal and unjust war against Ukraine backed by nuclear threats…. brought tanks and trenches back to Europe, making it an epicenter of conflict once more. At the same time, China is violating its neighbors’ territorial sovereignty and by its aggression making Asia a military flashpoint.”

In some respects, we are already seeing increased disruption and conflict with state actors in space and cyber domains. The U.S. Air Force has embarked on the restructuring to meet present-day, urgent threats, accelerated change, contested environments, and disruptive technologies, while still being able to present large-scale forces and capabilities. Here in North Dakota, Minot AFB will continue to be critical to strategic deterrence and conventional capability in the next decade and beyond, as the Sentinel ICBM system replaces Minuteman III missiles, and the B-52 bomber receives new engines and other upgrades.

The Commission Report further states, “Congress and the president play an essential role in communicating US interests, and threats to those interests, to the American people and enacting legislation in a timely fashion. The public needs to know that American vital interests and their individual freedoms and livelihoods are at risk, and that it will take a whole-of-government response to mitigate the risk.”

Given our TF21 mission to inform and educate on these matters, a TF21 North Dakota Nuclear Triad Symposium will take place on April 23 in Minot. The theme is “Sustaining Credible Nuclear Deterrence amidst Growing Challenges.” It is critical that leaders understand the critical role of Minot AFB as the only base with two legs of the nuclear triad. We are excited to educate local leaders and prepare the state for Sentinel and B-52 modernization.

Speakers will include Lt. Gen. Michael J. Lutton, deputy commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and deputy commander of Air Forces Strategic Air US Strategic Command; Col. Tytonia (Ty) S. Moore, deputy director of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Modernization, Site Activation Task Force; Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND; Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND (virtual message); Congressman Kelly Armstrong R-ND; N.D. Gov. Doug Burgum; Hon. David Nordquist, president and CEO, National Defense Industrial Association; James P. (Phil) Wisecup, vice admiral, U.S. Navy; Dr. Anna Batta, associate professor of International Security Studies Air War College; and William A. Chambers, major general, U.S. Air Force (retired) US Strategic Posture Commission executive director.

Thank you to the Minot Area Chamber EDC team for all their work to pull together this amazing event in N.D. The symposium is free and open to the public, but you must be registered to attend. Register today, as the symposium is expected to fill up fast. See https://taskforce21.com for additional details. These issues are indeed important, and truly deserve our attention. Join us on April 23.


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