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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke about the importance of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for supporting the men and women at Ellsworth Air Force Base and the future B-21 bomber mission. Thune also recognized the recent mobilization of the 109th Support Group of the South Dakota National Guard and thanked the guardsmen and their families for their service and sacrifice.
Thune’s remarks below:
“The 109th Support Group of the South Dakota National Guard just mobilized a few days ago to head to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the counter-ISIS mission. And unfortunately, we weren't able to have the activation deployment ceremony because the weather wouldn't permit it in South Dakota this last weekend, but we just want to wish the members of the South Dakota National Guard in this unit the very best and thank them for their service and their sacrifice and for that of their families.
“And also, to just say, I've always said that if you don't get national security right, the rest is conversation, which is why it was so important for us to get the National Defense Authorization bill across the finish line last week. There are so many provisions in there that are impactful when you live in a dangerous world. And if anything, the events of the last year have taught us we live in a very dangerous world.
“The B-21 bomber was just unveiled. That is a new bomber, a sixth-generation bomber, that puts us, as a country, in the lead when it comes to long-range strike capability. There are only three countries in the world who have strategic bombers, and those are China, Russia, and the United States.
“Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota is going to be the first home to the B-21 bomber. We're obviously very excited about that for the members, the airmen out there, for the community, for the base. No one could be more deserving of this very important mission.
“And of course, the defense authorization bill provided a lot of the funding, not only for the continued development and buildout of that aircraft, but also for all the infrastructure associated with it when it comes to Ellsworth Air Force Base. And so again, the defense authorization bill is so critically important to making sure that American men and women in uniform who are tasked with defending, protecting, ensuring the safety and security of people here in the United States and helping defend America's interests both here at home and around the world are funded. And the defense authorization will make sure that they have everything they need to do that job.
“And so I'm grateful that we got it passed last week. It shouldn't have taken this long. The Democrats always seem to delay the defense authorization bill, but in the end, we got it across the finish line, and that's good for America's national security interests.”