Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune (R-SD) made the following statement today regarding the Pentagon’s recommendation to close Ellsworth Air Force Base:

“Although this is only the first step in the process, this is upsetting news for all South Dakotans. The Pentagon is flat wrong in failing to recognize Ellsworth’s importance to our nation and state. We will continue to fight to keep Ellsworth open,” Thune said. “We should not close a single base here in America before the Pentagon decides which overseas bases to close. It defies common sense to close a base like Ellsworth before its strategic value is addressed in the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).”

The Quadrennial Defense Review Report is due to be released early next year. The QDR is a comprehensive examination of America’s future defense needs, including potential threats, force structure, strategy, defense infrastructure, and other elements of the defense program. The Commission on Review of Overseas Military Facility Structure of the United States (“Overseas BRAC” or “Overseas Basing Commission”) was established in 2003 to provide Congress and the President with a thorough study and review of U.S. military structure and facilities overseas. The Commission publicly released its report earlier this week, but no action has been taken.

“I will help lead the fight in the Senate to delay this BRAC round. Closing domestic bases before we complete the Overseas BRAC and QDR would be putting the cart before the horse,” said Thune.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Thune has already raised concerns about the timing of the current BRAC round and is calling for hearings on the Pentagon’s BRAC recommendations.

In addition to calling for Senate hearings, Senator Thune plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to stop or delay the BRAC round from moving forward, saying all legislative options are on the table.

“I expect the Senate Armed Services Committee to take a hard look at why, when, and where bases should close. With so many threats facing America, and with Ellsworth serving such a vital role in the War on Terror, closing Ellsworth would weaken America’s homeland security,” said Thune. “I will fight to delay the current BRAC round until we have a better understanding of our future military and security needs.”

Immediately following today’s announcement, Thune spoke with members of the Ellsworth Task Force in Rapid City. The Senator met with the full Task Force during a trip to South Dakota last week and pledged to continue to closely coordinate with the group.

“The Ellsworth Task Force has done everything it can to date, and we will continue to do everything we can in the future. Working with the rest of South Dakota’s Congressional delegation and Governor Rounds, we will keep fighting to convince the BRAC Commission of the importance of Ellsworth,” Thune said. “For decades, Ellsworth has defended our state and nation. Now, we will unite to defend Ellsworth.”

The Secretary’s recommendations will now be reviewed by the nine-member BRAC Commission. The review will include field hearings and base visits by the BRAC Commission. Senator Thune is calling on the BRAC Commission to hold a field hearing in Rapid City and visit Ellsworth Air Force Base as soon as possible.