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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., commented today on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recent proposal to retire Peacekeeper missiles, which are based in Cheyenne at F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

Following are comments from Senator Enzi and a related letter to the President.

"I will be reviewing the conclusions of Secretary Rumsfeld. I know the more than 600 personnel at F.E. Warren who are charged with the operation and maintenance of the Peacekeepers will remain at their posts for some time to come. This is only a preliminary review of the situation and any decisions regarding the elimination of the missiles must still go through Congress. Before congressional action is taken the delegation will be working diligently to find the best solution for F.E. Warren, the city of Cheyenne and the state of Wyoming.

"The other members of the delegation and I will continue to strongly advocate the major role F.E. Warren plays in our nation's defense. In addition to being the home of Peacekeeper missiles, a vital component of the base is the 90th Space Wing, working in concert with Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs. The base is also part of a network of regional bases that house Minuteman missiles. We sent a letter to the President in May emphasizing the need to keep our ICBM force at least 500 strong. We must guard against an overly aggressive dissipation of our nuclear capability."

The text of the May 9 letter follows:



May 9, 2001

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As the Administration considers revisions to our strategic nuclear posture, we write to urge you to support retention of 500 Minuteman III ICBMs. We are firmly convinced that retaining all 500 Minuteman missiles, particularly in a single warhead configuration, is in our nation's interest.

First, we would like to emphasize the unmatched responsiveness and availability of ICBMs. Minuteman missiles do not require generation (like bombers) or special positioning for launch (like Tridents). As overall deployed strategic warhead numbers decline, our nation will increasingly rely on the Minuteman force to ensure that more than just a few hundred warheads remain available in the event of an unexpected crisis.

Second, de-MIRVing from three warheads to one will make Minuteman IIIs our most stabilizing strategic asset. Because they concentrate warheads, MIRVed ICBMs make attractive targets. With the downloading of the dispersed, silo-based Minuteman force that has begun, the strategic character and implications of these missiles undergo a dramatic shift. With only a single warhead, Minuteman IIIs will not make attractive targets. For this reason and because they are continually observable from space, they will not be regarded as first-strike weapons. Even so, they will continue to function as "warhead sinks" by forcing any adversary to target them with two or three warheads to ensure their destruction in an exchange.

Additionally, ICBMs dramatically increase the number of aimpoints within the United States. Without the dispersed Minuteman force, our country could have just a few such targets spread across our strategic forces and command and control centers. On their own, 500 ICBMs would ensure that no aggressor could ever seriously entertain the prospect of a disarming first strike against the United States.

Fourth, our Minuteman force will continue to be the most inexpensive leg of the TRIAD and will offer enhanced warhead reliability and safety as the Mark-21 re-entry vehicle is transferred to the Minuteman force from the Peacekeepers.

Finally, we would note that taken together, Peacekeeper retirement and downloading of the Minuteman force will reduce the number of strategic warheads deployed on land-based missiles by 1,500, a three-fourths reduction. Making these adjustments to our ICBM force would simultaneously serve your stated goals of reducing warheads and enhancing deterrence.

Thank you for your consideration of why retention of 500 Minuteman missiles makes good sense for our nation and strategic stability. We look forward to working closely with you to craft a new deterrence posture for the new century.

Sincerely,

KENT CONRAD
BYRON L. DORGAN
CRAIG THOMAS
MIKE ENZI
MAX BAUCUS
CONRAD BURNS
ORRIN HATCH
ROBERT BENNETT

May 9, 2001The PresidentThe White HouseWashington, D.C. 20500Dear Mr. President:As the Administration considers revisions to our strategic nuclear posture, we write to urge you to support retention of 500 Minuteman III ICBMs. We are firmly convinced that retaining all 500 Minuteman missiles, particularly in a single warhead configuration, is in our nation's interest. First, we would like to emphasize the unmatched responsiveness and availability of ICBMs. Minuteman missiles do not require generation (like bombers) or special positioning for launch (like Tridents). As overall deployed strategic warhead numbers decline, our nation will increasingly rely on the Minuteman force to ensure that more than just a few hundred warheads remain available in the event of an unexpected crisis. Second, de-MIRVing from three warheads to one will make Minuteman IIIs our most stabilizing strategic asset. Because they concentrate warheads, MIRVed ICBMs make attractive targets. With the downloading of the dispersed, silo-based Minuteman force that has begun, the strategic character and implications of these missiles undergo a dramatic shift. With only a single warhead, Minuteman IIIs will not make attractive targets. For this reason and because they are continually observable from space, they will not be regarded as first-strike weapons. Even so, they will continue to function as "warhead sinks" by forcing any adversary to target them with two or three warheads to ensure their destruction in an exchange. Additionally, ICBMs dramatically increase the number of aimpoints within the United States. Without the dispersed Minuteman force, our country could have just a few such targets spread across our strategic forces and command and control centers. On their own, 500 ICBMs would ensure that no aggressor could ever seriously entertain the prospect of a disarming first strike against the United States. Fourth, our Minuteman force will continue to be the most inexpensive leg of the TRIAD and will offer enhanced warhead reliability and safety as the Mark-21 re-entry vehicle is transferred to the Minuteman force from the Peacekeepers. Finally, we would note that taken together, Peacekeeper retirement and downloading of the Minuteman force will reduce the number of strategic warheads deployed on land-based missiles by 1,500, a three-fourths reduction. Making these adjustments to our ICBM force would simultaneously serve your stated goals of reducing warheads and enhancing deterrence. Thank you for your consideration of why retention of 500 Minuteman missiles makes good sense for our nation and strategic stability. We look forward to working closely with you to craft a new deterrence posture for the new century. Sincerely, KENT CONRAD BYRON L. DORGANCRAIG THOMASMIKE ENZIMAX BAUCUS CONRAD BURNSORRIN HATCH ROBERT BENNETT