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Additional BUFFs to Minot: Air Combat Command officially announced on Nov. 21 that Minot AFB, N.D., is the Air Force's "preferred location" to house a fourth B-52 bomber squadron, under a plan the service began in spring 2008. First, though, USAF must complete the required environmental assessment. The North Dakota Congressional delegation broke the news a day early. In a Nov. 20 joint statement, Sen. Kent Conrad (D), Sen. Byron Dorgan (D), and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) said: "Our efforts to preserve Minot's bomber force have really paid off. And, while we knew this news was coming, this official announcement is still a sweet victory for the men and women of Minot Air Force Base. They are the best of the best." The ACC announcement said the environmental review process, which will address locating the additional squadron at either Minot or Barksdale AFB, La., would "begin in the near future." Minot currently has only one B-52 squadron, while Barksdale is home to two operational squadrons. ACC believes it could stand up the new squadron at Minot, assuming a favorable EA verdict, by late 2009 or early 2010.