In an urgent letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Montana GOP Senator Steve Daines expressed concern about a Chinese balloon that flew over the state, where intercontinental ballistic missile fields are located. According to officials, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley and vice chair Joint Chief Gen. Christopher Grady suggested that no “kinetic action” be taken due to the potential hazard posed by any falling debris from the balloon. As such, Sen. Daines requested a full security briefing in order to ensure the safety of Montanans and those in neighboring states.
Daines said, “The fact that this balloon was occupying Montana airspace creates significant concern that Malmstrom Air Force Base and the United States’ intercontinental ballistic missile fields are the target of this intelligence gathering mission. Given the serious nature of the event, I am requesting a full security briefing from the administration on this situation. It is vital to establish the flight path of this balloon, any compromised U.S. national security assets, and all telecom or IT infrastructure on the ground within the U.S. that this spy-balloon was utilizing.”
He also said, “I am alarmed by the fact that this spy balloon was able to infiltrate the airspace of our country and Montana. There is no higher priority for your administration than the safety and security of the American people and it is imperative that your administration reassure them of that fact at this time.”
On Tuesday, reports of a Chinese surveillance balloon surfaced in Billings, Montana. A senior defense official stated that the balloon had travelled over the Aleutian Islands and Canada before entering U.S. airspace which led to flights at Billings Logan International Airport being suspended for an estimated two hours on Wednesday. According to Defense Department sources, the balloon was still airborne as of Thursday.