Minot Air Force Base Greets Visit From Air Force Secretary by Dumping B-52 Engine Into the Countryside

Aerial view of Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Nov. 2nd 2016. DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

“An engine fell out of a B-52 bomber during a training mission northeast of Minot on Wednesday,” KXNews reports.

“A pentagon source says the engine is buried in snow in a river bed. Air Force sources tell us it is on J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge land, located near Upham in Bottineau County,” the report continues.

That’s not ideal. All the more so because it happened the day before a visit to the base from Air Force Secretary Lee James.

“North Dakota Senator John Hoeven says the secretary has been helpful in maintaining missions and upgrading equipment at the local base,” WDAY reports. But how long are federal officials going to keep backing missions in Minot given the history of the last several years.

North Dakota’s congressional delegation is always fighting to keep North Dakota’s bases open, but the Minot Air Force Base has been making it difficult.

I’m not sure that a B-52 dropping an engine into a river on a wildlife preserve is going to convince anyone that the “trend of complacency” is over at the base.

Back in 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the base after a review of the nuclear programs there found major problems with crumbling infrastructure and morale.

“Officials warned that if ‘the current trend of complacency’ in managing the facility continues, it could lead to failure with major consequences,” the Washington Post reported at the time.

I’m not sure that a B-52 dropping an engine into a river on a wildlife preserve is going to convince anyone that the “trend of complacency” is over at the base.

Back in 2007 the Minot Air Force Base got another black eye when six AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly flown in a B-52 all the way down to the Barksdale base in Louisiana. The warheads were supposed to have been removed before the missiles were loaded on the plane.

Nobody noticed the warheads were missing for 36 hours.

The Minot Air Force Base is great for Minot, which is especially important to me because that’s where I live. The people who come to Minot to serve and work at the base enrich our community culturally and economically.

But the base is going to end up closed if the personnel there can’t get their act together.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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