Security & Defense Tour Brings McCaskill to Kansas City’s National Security Campus, Following Whiteman Air Force Base Visit

Continuing her Security & Defense tour across the state, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today received firsthand updates on Missouri’s leading role in military drone operations and nuclear safety efforts. McCaskill, a senior member of the Senate’s Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, visited Whiteman Air Force Base in Warrensburg, and Kansas City’s National Security Campus, a facility of the National Nuclear Security Administration. The National Security Campus is on track to hire between 300-500 people in the next few years as the U.S. continues to modernize its nuclear weapons systems. McCaskill and the facility’s leadership held a wide-ranging discussion, including modernization efforts, and continued challenges with security clearance background checks—an area in which McCaskill has led the reform effort in Congress. Earlier in the day, McCaskill toured Whiteman Air Force Base and received a briefing from leaders of the drone operations there, and updates on the unique missions at the installation, and discussed the ongoing military campaign against the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State. “When it comes to keeping our country and our communities safe and secure, the folks I visited with today are on the front lines,” said McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran. “Our military installations are highly capable, and these men and women are maintaining Missouri’s proud tradition of leadership in our nation’s defense. The feedback I got from them will help me fight to keep that leadership role for our state when I go back to the Senate.” Whiteman is home to the 20th Attack Squadron—recently reflagged from the 20th Reconnaissance Squadron—a unit that includes technicians, administrators, and pilots who operate the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, unmanned aerial vehicles used to gather intelligence and conduct deadly strikes. McCaskill is a longtime advocate of Whiteman’s drone pilots, pushing the Air Force for a strong plan to address the unique form of combat stress faced by the pilots. Since that time, the Air Force has adjusted the drone program to relieve stress on the force—in part, by boosting retention bonuses, and announcing plans to hire an additional 500 pilots. Last year’s national defense bill was shaped by McCaskill to include $29.5 million for construction of a consolidated operations facility at Whiteman, replacing the existing collection of temporary facilities currently dispersed around the base.