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Rising security threats require urgent response

by Steve Grooms and Don Alston
| July 9, 2024 12:00 AM

Great Falls is proud of the key role Malmstrom Air Force Base plays in the defense of this nation and our allies. For most of that 61-year history, the 341st Missile Wing helped defend us against a single existential threat: Russia (and previously the Soviet Union).

Today, the threats are profoundly different. For the first time in history, we face two adversaries with modern and expanding nuclear arsenals. Our aged nuclear forces, sized to confront Russia, are now asked to also deter China effectively. If China’s rate of nuclear expansion stays on track, by 2030, there will be three nations with comparably sized strategic forces, and two of those three nuclear powers are working together against the interests of the U.S and its allies.

A recent bi-partisan Congressional Commission studied America’s strategic posture and provided a unanimous report to Congress emphasizing the following: “The United States faces a strategic challenge requiring urgent action. Given current threat trajectories, our nation will soon encounter a fundamentally different global setting than it has ever experienced: we will face a world where two nations possess nuclear arsenals on par with our own. In addition, the risk of conflict with these two nuclear peers is increasing. It is an existential challenge for which the United States is ill-prepared, unless its leaders make decisions now to adjust the U.S. strategic posture.”

All U.S strategic modernization programs must continue with utmost urgency, especially the nuclear alert force which includes transitioning the Minuteman III to the Sentinel ICBM. 

Great Falls and the surrounding communities will continue to build on their support of Malmstrom’s vital mission.

Steve Grooms is Montana Defense Alliance chair. Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Alston is executive director of the Strategic Deterrent Coalition Board of Regents.