MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, United States Strategic Command commander, visits with members of the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing during an all call here April 20. General Chilton's visit was one of encouragement to the men and women of Minot AFB and to personally thank them for the sacrifices made every day in the defense of this nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keith Ballard)
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The commander of United States Strategic Command visited one of the key bases under his wartime command April 20 to tell Airmen at Minot Air Force Base their service to country, their professionalism and their dedication to the nuclear profession are not only noticed, but needed.
"Minot Air Force Base is not just valuable to the mission of United States Strategic Command, it is essential," said General Kevin Chilton. "I rely on the ICBM force every day, and I count on the ability of the B-52 force to generate when needed. "
General Chilton said every nuclear professional should be well proud of the mission they do here every day.
"The greatest calling is to prevent warfare," he said. "You deter others not just with the nuclear power here, but also the conventional power. "
With two of the three legs of the nuclear triad at Minot Air Force Base, General Chilton said the base can truly reach out and touch anywhere on the globe, anytime.
General Chilton said he was encouraged by the many recent changes in the nuclear enterprise, including the release of the Nuclear Posture Review and the signing of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. But, he said, he gets the greatest satisfaction from what is happening at the wing level.
"I review the statistics on how these wings are performing," he said. "I am confident in you, I'm confident in your training, and I'm confident in your leadership. "
The General said he believes the Nuclear Posture Review reaffirmed the commitment to sustaining a nuclear deterrent and the need for the nuclear triad. It also highlights the need to modernize the ICBM force and study a follow-on to the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, he said. He also said he is encouraged by the forward movement on a new bomber.
"It's good news," he said.
General Chilton also said the new START treaty should bring no major changes to operations at Minot Air Force Base.
"It provides for considerations to how we will manage the force," he explained. "The Air Force is reviewing our role in managing the nuclear force. "
General Chilton spoke to Airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing, encouraging them to enjoy what they do and feel proud that they are so vital to America.
"These days will go by quickly," he said. "You will long for these days when you knew in your heart everything mattered. "
The General told audiences during his visit he is encouraged by the progress in the nuclear profession. The standup of a new command providing centralized focus on the mission has been a key step, he said. And he said, from here forward, studying the profession of deterrence will be vital to continuing that progress.
"We must be committed to never losing focus again. "
The General reaffirmed his confidence in Minot Air Force Base's ability to carry the nuclear enterprise to the next level.
"Be confident in yourselves," he said.