The charge by North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad to “save” the 500-strong Minuteman missile force received unanimous support from the Senate. (DR 09/23/05) Conrad and friends included an amendment in the 2006 defense authorization measure that states: “It is the policy of the United States to continue to deploy a force of 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles,” barring any dramatic and “unanticipated” strategic developments in the future. Conrad feared the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review crowd was casting a budget-cutting eye toward the ICBM force.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."