National Security & Foreign Affairs
America must have a strong military to deter would-be adversaries and, when diplomatic efforts fail, protect our nation from attack or imminent harm. As South Dakota’s U.S. senator, I strive to ensure our armed forces, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement officials are provided with the tools they need to prevent attacks against our country and our citizens. Members of our all-volunteer military have taken action to bring the fight to enemies around the globe and protect our nation. These men and women have dismantled terrorist safe-havens, disrupted terror groups, thwarted attacks, hunted down and delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, and put their own lives at risk to make our world a safer place. As long as there are forces in this world that seek to challenge the democratic ideals and freedoms of our country, we must remain vigilant and strive to preserve liberty and peace for our people.
The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the most essential measures Congress passes every year. This legislation invests in improving the quality of life for our military members and their families and focuses on restoring military readiness to ensure our nation is prepared to meet the threats posed by major powers like Russia and China. I’ve been proud to support the NDAA every year I’ve been in Congress. A strong American military will help strengthen and stabilize our friends and allies and promote democracy, human rights, and other American values across the globe.
As South Dakota’s senator, I’ve had the special opportunity to interact with many of South Dakota’s men and women in uniform and their families. They are people of purpose and community, driven by a love of country
Ellsworth Air Force Base
I am incredibly proud that South Dakota and Ellsworth Air Force Base were chosen to serve as the main operating base for the future B-21 stealth bomber. I am committed to ensuring that the base has everything it needs as it evolves into the “Home of the Raider” and continues to serve as one of our nation’s essential military assets for decades to come.
Hosting the B-21 is a once-in-a-generation win for South Dakota, and it is all the more momentous when you consider how close we came to not having an Air Force base West River at all. Ellsworth was placed on the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list just months after I arrived in the Senate in 2005. We dug in, put up a fight, and convinced the BRAC commission that Ellsworth was a vital national security asset. It’s been a team effort, from the local communities in Box Elder and Rapid City to state partners like the Ellsworth Development Authority and strong relationships with the base and Air Force leaders. In 16 years, Ellsworth went from imminent closure to being on the cutting edge of America’s national security and strategic deterrence. One of the most transformative steps taken to prepare for the future of the base was the decades-long effort to quadruple the local training airspace, the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC). The PRTC is now the largest training air space in the continental United States and can be used for large force exercises that draw combat aircraft from across the country. Advanced aircraft need larger training space, and the PRTC gave us an edge in winning the B-21 mission.
I remain steadfast in my support for the mission and the men and women of the 28th Bomb Wing who have put Ellsworth on the map, and I am thrilled for the next chapter with the B-21, which will keep it there.
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|12/4/15||Thune Statement on First Large Force Exercise at New Powder River Expansion|
|6/1/12||South Dakota National Guard Celebrates 150th Anniversary|
|4/13/12||Secretary of the Navy Announces Submarine USS South Dakota|
|3/12/12||Congressional Delegation Asks Secretary of the Navy to Name Submarine USS South Dakota|