October 1, 2014

Skelton ‘disappointed’ Whiteman won’t be Global Strike Command

 

Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster was passed over for the Nation’s Global Strike Command.

The Department of Defense has announced that the Air Force chose Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana as the single authority over all strategic operations forces assigned to the nuclear deterrence mission.

Whiteman was among six bases the Air Force was considering for the designation.

Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton, head of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a statement about the decision.

"I am very disappointed and I question the wisdom of the Air Force’s decision," he says. "To me, all of the selection criteria pointed toward Whiteman Air Force Base as the best choice for this new command. Whiteman Air Force Base also has an extraordinarily supportive local community, which has been very welcoming of proposals to bring new missions and commands to the base."

"It has long been my dream to make Whiteman Air Force Base one of America’s premier military installations, and I will continue to commit myself to this effort," Skelton says.

Although Barksdale has earned the designation, the decision is not official until an environmental impact analysis is completed, which is required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

In October 2008, the Air Force announced that a major command would be created to be the single authority over all strategic operational forces assigned to the nuclear deterrence mission. The service established a provisional global strike command headquarters at Bolling AFB, D.C, as an interim location for the command on Jan. 12.

On Jan. 21, Air Force officials announced the six potential candidate bases for the major command and began site surveys that concluded on March 6. The candidate bases were Barksdale AFB; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; Minot AFB, N.D.; Offutt AFB, Neb.; and Whiteman AFB, Mo.

"All six candidate locations received a thorough evaluation in accordance with our basing process," said Kathleen I. Ferguson, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations. "Site survey teams used previously established criteria to gather information, assess capabilities, and refine initial data. This information was then evaluated during a Headquarters Air Force-level review to select a preferred alternative."

The selection of a preferred alternative was primarily based on an installation’s ability to provide significant nuclear mission synergy. Other criteria evaluated included facilities and infrastructure, support capacity, transportation and access, communications and bandwidth, and security to support the AFGSC headquarters.

Following the completion of the environmental impact analysis, Air Force officials intend to make a final base selection this summer.

Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission meets

The commission was joined by legislators, retired military folks and a host of interests from areas surrounding Whitman Airforce Base and Fort Leonard Wood such as school officials, chambers of commerce members, Realtors and others.

Reports were given by the USS Missouri Submarine Commissioning Committee, National Guard and Military Base liasons. Additionally, Pat Kerr with the Veterans Commission talked about how vital it is that veterans and military families are educated about the benefits available to them.

Kerr says with 541,000 veterans in Missouri with their families, that means more than 3 million people are affected by military news. She urged everyone to frequently check the VA Web site for changes in benefits.

Concerns were brought up about K through 12 education rules that affect incoming military transfers. Roger Dorson with the Department of Education says those who must live on base — if they want their children to go to school in a different district — have to pay tuition. Dorson says the concerns can probably be addressed with a change in bylaws.

Retired Col. Dennis Sandbothe talked about the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, spearheaded by Congressman Ike Skelton. He compares the program to ROTC and says Missouri used to have the program but it went away because of a lack of state funding. He says it takes at-risk youth and puts them into a good environment.

There have been four USS Missouri ships throughout history … the fifth is being built in Connecticut.

Sam Bushman with the USS Missouri Submarine Commissioning Committee says the commission date keeps getting pushed up and now the group has about a year to raise $300,000.

Bushman says there are some things the Navy cannot pay for — one is the highly ceremonial and traditional commissioning of a vessel. He says the committee’s fundraising provides amenities on vessels such as home theaters and libraries, and pays for the celebrations surrounding a new ship’s commissioning.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download/listen MP3]

B-2 From Whiteman AFB Crashes on Guam

A B-2 stealth bomber based at Whiteman Air Force Base has crashed at an air base on Guam, but the Air Force says both pilots are in good condition after they ejected safely.

This is the first crash of a B-2 bomber. The cause is not known. A board of officers will investigate the incident.

Defense Secretary "Returns" to Whiteman

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has told a group at Whiteman Air Force Base the United States must use every option to resist Iran’s nuclear ambitions – including the threat of military force.

Gates says a military attack on Iran might be a remote option, but it should be considered a plausible option.

The visit was a homecoming for Gates, who served at Whiteman while an Air Force officer in the late 1960s.

State Officials Say Agreement Should Protect Groundwater Long-Term

They have been gone for ten years and state officials want to make sure missile silos that once threatened the old Soviet Union don’t threaten Missouri groundwater.

Hotel 11, named by the Air Force, was destroyed mid-December 1997 near Dederick, the last missile silo to be imploded. It ended an era in western Missouri; an era when that part of the state became a major target during the Cold War. Minuteman II missiles controlled by Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster dotted the countryside.

Larry Erickson with the State Department of Natural Resources says the Air Force took care when it decommissioned and destroyed the missiles. It kept the environment in mind when it imploded the missile silos, especially after discovering that waterproofing on the concrete contained the contaminant PCB. DNR has reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure that contaminants once used to keep water out of the silos don’t leach into the groundwater over the long-term. Erickson says an initial agreement didn’t look far enough down the road. The new agreement gives responsibilities to DNR, EPA and the Air Force to make sure the groundwater is not contaminated and that nothing disturbs the concrete, plastic and soil caps installed at each site.

Erickson says an extensive, five-year groundwater study assured officials that no contaminates have gotten into the groundwater from the destroyed Minuteman II missile silos. 

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)