February 10, 2016

Udall Statement Following Appropriations Hearing on Air Force Funding

WASHINGTON - At a U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing today on the president's budget request for the Air Force, U.S. Senator Tom Udall pressed Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III on important issues related to New Mexico's Air Force bases and their role in maintaining a strong national defense. After the hearing, Udall released the following statement:

"I'm working as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure that New Mexico's bases have the resources they need to continue their important national security work. Our three Air Force bases -- Kirtland, Cannon and Holloman -- are essential to the U.S. response to today's security challenges and for preparing our forces to combat our future adversaries. Secretary James and General Welsh seem well aware of this.

"At Kirtland, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Nuclear Weapons Center are helping modernize the force. Just today, I learned that Kirtland is adding 34 new positions to consolidate the Air Force's nuclear management at the base. Meanwhile, the 58th Special Operations Wing and Holloman are both working to train future warfighters, and special forces at Cannon continue to bring the fight to our enemies overseas.

"In response to my questioning, Secretary James assured me that Holloman will remain a part of the Air Force's long-term strategic vision, and I thanked her for working to open up airspace over White Sands Missile Range. Holloman is well positioned for the future, and the Air Force leadership told me they will continue to support training German forces at the base. I am pleased that they also reinforced that Holloman will continue to be a candidate base for a future F-35 mission.

"Finally, New Mexico plays an important role in modernizing our nuclear arsenal. Extending the life of the deterrent, including the B61 life extension project, remains a top priority. New Mexico's bases also have an important role to play as we tackle tomorrow's threats - whether from cyber or space, or by utilizing new uses of photonics technology and 3-D printing. I'll work to ensure New Mexico and the nation remain at the forefront of this important work as we write next year's defense funding bills."