RED HORSE, Malmstrom missile alert facilities included in appropriations bill

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill that includes provisions for Malmstrom Air Force Base.

The bill next goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

Both Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines sit on the Appropriations Committee.

According to Tester’s office, the Democrat added a provision that would prohibit the Air Force from relocating Malmstrom’s RED HORSE unit overseas.

In 2015, the Air Force considered consolidating the Malmstrom unit with the smaller unit in Guam, and closing one of the units.

Tester and Daines fought that move and in July 2015, the Air Force announced both units would stay put.

The provision in the appropriations bill prohibits the Air Force from using any funding to consolidate or relocate any element of a RED HORSE squadron outside of the U.S. until the Secretary of the Air Force completes an analysis and comparison of the costs and infrastructure investment required for such a move; provides a report to appropriations committees in the Senate and House on the fundings; and certifies in writing to the committees that the preferred site would yield the greatest savings for the Air Force.

The bill language indicates that “the term ‘United States’ in this section does not include any territory or possession of the United States.”

The bill’s accompanying report includes language indicating the committee’s concern with the deteriorating missile alert facilities at the three intercontinental ballistic missile bases, including Malmstrom, as well as Minot AFB in North Dakota and F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming.

“The Missile Alert Facilities at these bases are in advanced states of disrepair,” the report states. “In February 2018, the Air Force provided the committee a study that highlighted the need to recapitalize the MAFs. Further, the committee understands that Air Force Global Strike Command continues to be in the process of identifying, validating, and finalizing facility requirements, as well as analyzing commercial electrical power infrastructure to support the missile fields. The committee directs the Secretary of the Air Force to provide compiled results as soon as they become available.”

In a release, Tester said, “these plans do right by our state so that local businesses can create jobs, families can access affordable housing, Malmstrom and continue to keep us safe and veterans can access the timely care they’ve earned.”

In addition to the Malmstrom provisions, the bill also includes the following:

Veterans Provisions

  • $861 million for the VA Caregivers Program
  • $150 million for extended care grants to help veterans who need long-term care
  • $450 million for support services for veteran families
  • $531 million for female veteran services
  • $270 million for rural veteran services
  • $30 million to expand telehealth services at the VA

Transportation Provisions

  • $175 million to continue Essential Air Service at seven Montana airports
  • $1.3 billion for National Network Grants that support Amtrak’s long-distance service like Montana’s Empire Builder Line
  • Directs the Secretary of Transportation to coordinate with the Secretary of Agriculture regarding the implementation of electronic logging devices for livestock haulers