U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines and U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke today introduced measures that aim to ensure the Department of Defense (DoD) secures the nation’s nuclear assets.
Daines’ bill directs the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to tell Congress within five days how they will secure nuclear missiles made vulnerable by the insufficient capability of the UH-1N, and implement the necessary mitigation with additional resources within sixty days.
Zinke introduced a similar bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that aims to address the security shortfalls of the UH-1Ns by requiring the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to approve the requests for forces to meet security requirements at land-based nuclear forces.
“It’s unconscionable that our nuclear weapons are currently sitting unsecured without any clear plan to provide an immediate security enhancement or to replace helicopters that do not meet security requirements,” Daines stated. “This legislation requires a prompt security solution to the immediate problem with outside resources. I will continue to push the Defense Department to replace the UH-1N as fast as possible so that our nation’s most powerful weapons are fully secure.”
“I’ve been working with the Air Force and the House Armed Services Committee for more than a year on this issue, so it is extremely disappointing the Air Force has chosen to punt once again,” Zinke stated. “There are helicopters that are readily available and will save the taxpayer money, yet leave it to the bureaucrats at the DoD to choose the costliest, inefficient route. This amendment will try to address the security needs of the missile fields while ensuring that the acquisition process is done in an expeditious matter.”
Daines’ bill requests the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
- make a decision with respect to immediately securing land-based missile fields using alternative helicopters, or making a change in security posture, until the acquisition process for a helicopter to replace the UH–1N helicopter has concluded;
- not later than 5 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, submit to Congress a report on the decision relating to a request for forces required by paragraph (1); and
- not later than 60 days after such date of enactment, implement that decision.
The full text of Daines’ bill is available here and Zinke’s is available here.
Daines and Zinke have long been pushing the Air Force to chose the most expeditious path to replace the Vietnam-era UH-1N’s that provide security for our ICBMs.