Tester, Kendall, DAF senior leaders visit Malmstrom AFB

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shelby Thurman and Airman 1st Class Elijah Van Zandt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

Senator Jon Tester, senior U.S. Senator for the state of Montana, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and other Department of the Air Force senior leaders visited Malmstrom Air Force Base, April 4-5, to engage with Airmen and receive updates on the ongoing missile community cancer study from DAF leadership.

“Thank you to each and every one of you for what you do to keep this nation safe,” Tester said. “I can’t express my appreciation enough for the folks out there doing the work every day making sure things work for this country from a deterrent standpoint and from a defense standpoint. Opportunities [like today] don’t come around very often – an opportunity to let the folks that oversee the business of the United States Air Force an idea of what is on your mind today.”

Tester and Kendall were joined by Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Robert Miller and Maj. Gen. Mike Lutton, 20th Air Force commander. The four leaders held an open forum with Malmstrom AFB Airmen, discussing potential blood cancer concerns that have recently arisen. Col. Tory Woodard, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine commander, also took questions.

“You perform the single most important mission in the Department of Defense,” Kendall said. “I am here to assure that the senior leadership of the department is very much on top of this. We are going to do everything we can to find out what is going on and make sure you are safe – it is our fundamental responsibility to you.”

The leaders reiterated the seriousness with which they are taking the concerns. At the direction of Gen. Thomas Bussiere, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, the study is leaving no stone unturned. Previous studies at Malmstrom AFB in 2001 and 2005 are being cross-checked against new and updated medical literature that may have emerged since those studies were completed.

“We aren’t the only ones looking at this study and the results,” Miller said. “We are partnering with outside agencies such as the National Cancer Institute, the VA (Veterans Affairs), the Defense Health Agency and the public health experts, to make sure that the study is done right and we give the results a hard scrub for your health and safety. What is most important to us is transparency.”

As one of three bases accomplishing the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile mission, Malmstrom AFB Airmen supply, defend, maintain and stand on alert at missile sites and launch every hour of every day. With the broad array of career fields that interact with and support the ICBM infrastructure, Miller emphasized the commitment to transparency with the study and to the Airmen and Guardians who have stood and continue to stand watch nonstop.

“Our mission here is to get an answer for what is happening,” Lutton said. “Part of that is an absolute commitment by our leadership across the Air Force to take any questions you have seriously and investigate them. It is not something you are owed, is it something you deserve, this includes total force and our veterans.”

As part of the visit, the group also toured a missile alert facility/launch control center, received updates on both the Sentinel and MH-139A Grey Wolf programs and were briefed on planned improvements to quality of life on base.