The Criticality of Modernization

Written by: Rod Wilson

Col. Tytonia S. Moore, Deputy Director of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Modernization, Site Activation Task Force spoke about the modernization and implementation of the Sentinel project at the recent Nuclear Triad Symposium sponsored by Task Force 21.

The Minuteman III has served our nation well. But Sentinel is the weapon system to replace the aging Minuteman III. We talked with Col. Moore about the modernization of the land-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad. What makes Sentinel unique is the off-base construction and footprint it covers, including 15 missile alert facilities and 150 launch facilities.
We thank Col. Moore for his time to sit down with us during the busy nuclear triad symposium.

Why is it important to educate people about the nuclear triad through symposiums like this?

Col. Moore- Simply, we need to communicate more. We don’t talk enough about the benefits and the criticality of the nuclear deterrent to our national security strategy and our national defense strategy. Of anything that we do that is of importance, is exactly what we are doing today (at the symposium) is talking about our nuclear deterrent. It’s very important to communicate and the more opportunity to share what we believe is the criticality of having a nuclear deterrent as our cornerstone for our nation’s defense. I think we need to take advantage of every opportunity to share that word, and to explain to the American public about how key the nuclear deterrent is to our national security strategy.

How important is it to prove to both our adversaries and our allies that we are taking the steps necessary to modernize our nuclear arsenal.

Col. Moore– Minot is unique in that it represents 2 of the 3 legs of our nuclear triad. As I said earlier, our nations’ defense is backstopped and the bedrock of that is our nuclear deterrent, and it has to be maintained in incredible ways to make sure it is secure and effective, always. We also see that without that, we have implications for everything that our country does from a strategic viewpoint. So, when I look at what we’ve been able to accomplish as a country from a national security perspective, the underpinnings of our operations for the last 6 decades came from a nuclear security strategy point.

As we look at the rest of the world, peer and near peer countries who are also modernizing their nuclear arsenals, we have to look at what’s here at Minot Air Force Base, and at other nuclear bases, specifically as I talk about Sentinel, and why Sentinel is so important, in the most responsive way, to modernize our nuclear triad. As equally important as Sentinel is the modernization of the B-52H models that we currently fly here at Minot Air Force Base. Once the modernization has taken place we’re going to change the name to B-52J model, and it will be a much more capable aircraft. Who knows, we might get another 50 years out of that aircraft, or longer. Kind of like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going, and going; we see a lot of legs left in the B-52 Aircraft.

There’s been another focus, retaining our young men and women in our military. How do you think that focus will pay off in the future?
Col. Moore– Within Global Strike we have a lot of great Airmen located in our northern bases, doing great work across the northern tier, Montana, Wyoming and obviously in the state of North Dakota, in particular at Minot. The one thing that we are committed to is retaining that talent, so we are putting a lot of focus on providing them resources, not only for the Airmen, but also for their families. It’s different at the northern tier bases compared to some of the other bases in the Air Force. We’re looking for different ways to address those challenges.

The good thing is that we have great community leaders like the leadership here at Minot Air Force Base and around the base. The feedback we get from our Airmen is that the best part of their career, the most rewarding part of their careers was the time when they were stationed at one of the northern bases, Minot is no exception to that. That tells me that we are making strides to meeting those challenges, and the community partners are locked in step. I can’t say enough how supportive they’ve been, and continue to be, at what the Air Force sees. We’ll continue to pursue those things, and hopefully between what the Airmen see on how committed we are to providing them with a good quality of life. Looking for initiatives to improve their quality of life in partnership with our community leaders. In addition, they see that we value the jobs because we are modernizing the platforms that they fly here and the weapons systems that the missileers are operating here day to day.

The maintainers, the cops, everyone is important to the mission, and we’re investing money into the mission here. We’re hopeful that it will yield more retention for our Airmen which is one of our top priorities.

Are we at a turning point based on what we are seeing with our 2 major adversaries, Russia, and China?
Col. Moore-
We acknowledge the other threat that we have to keep pace with, and we see modernization and sustainment of our current nuclear strategy as a critical bedrock to providing what the nation needs in terms of its’ national defense from a policy perspective and from an operations perspective. We went for years when we didn’t modernize our nuclear triad even though it had been deployed over several administrations who believed it was paramount that we maintain our nuclear triad based on the world threat. We acknowledge as a nation that we absolutely need to modernize. We acknowledge the criticality of the triad, and we acknowledge that we have to keep pace with the threats.

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