- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Minot Air Force Base will be getting 303 more personnel through an effort to strengthen the military’s nuclear mission.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said 69 of the new positions will be with the 5th Bomb Wing and 234 with the 91st missile wing.

The Minot base oversees 150 Minuteman III missiles buried in silos across 8,500 square miles in northwest and north central North Dakota. It also is home to B-52 bombers. The two wings are assigned to Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees nuclear missiles and bombers.

The military has been working to address problems, including morale and training issues, in the nuclear mission. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, commander of Global Strike Command, said earlier this year that more than 1,000 personnel would be added to the five bases in the command.

“Minot Air Force Base, with both a bomber wing and a missile wing, is clearly a vital part of that (nuclear) mission, which this increase in personnel signifies,” Hoeven said in a statement Thursday.

Many of the base’s bombers have been flying out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and Anderson Air Base in Guam this summer to allow for runway upgrades at the Minot base.

Col. Jason Armagost, commander of the bomb wing, told members of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee on Thursday that the $32 million project will wrap up by the end of September.

“You’ll see B-52s flying around here again pretty soon,” he said.

Minot bombers and crews routinely deploy to Guam to keep a bomber presence in the South Pacific. Ellsworth was chosen as a temporary site because it is close and has a suitable runway. The southwest South Dakota base houses B-1 bombers.

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