OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., –
U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper spent the day with members of United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Feb. 20, engaging with warfighters throughout the day, answering questions at a town hall, and working out at the Offutt Field House alongside service members.
“This is an important visit for me and shows how very important what you all do is for our nation’s security,” said Secretary Esper. “Our top priority is making sure we have a safe, secure, effective and credible strategic deterrent. That means all legs of the triad, nuclear command, control and communications, and a very effective command under the leadership of a very effective commander.”
The secretary toured the Global Operations Center and Battle Deck in USSTRATCOM’s newest weapons system, the Command & Control Facility (C2F). It was also here that he experienced an in-depth look into how the work force executes strategic deterrence every day.
During his visit, Secretary Esper was able to see firsthand the expertise and readiness that is the foundation of USSTRATCOM and global strategic deterrence. The command has the responsibility under the Unified Campaign Plan to provide nuclear operations, the bedrock of strategic deterrence, which is the Department of Defense’s number-one priority mission.
“We know that adversaries are going to test us, which is why we must be ready every day,” explained Adm. Chas Richard, USSTRATCOM commander. “Our warfighters showcased this to the Secretary today to reassure him that we do strategic deterrence every day—we are ready.”
Secretary Esper took questions about anything affecting the members of Offutt AFB and their families at a Town Hall. Team Offutt seized the opportunity to engage directly with the DOD’s top leader, who addressed a range of topics, from the challenges posed by Great Power Competition to his perspective on how the Department of Defense can support families during military service.
“This is a family business and it takes a family to sustain it and make your way through it,” said Secretary Esper. “Whether you make your way through a 3-year hitch or a 30-year career, it still comes down to taking care of everybody.”
The Secretary of Defense ensured direct engagement with members when he joined USSTRATCOM and Team Offutt members in an early morning physical training session. Secretary Esper welcomed the challenge and the participants appreciated his willingness to break a sweat with them.
“When I heard the SECDEF wanted ‘to be challenged,’ I was ready to put together a team of athletes and exercises to rise to the occasion,” said Lt. Col. Naviere Walkewicz, USSTRATCOM Agent of Change, who led the PT session. “Many that I spoke with were impressed not only by his athletic ability, but that he also made them a priority—highlighting the importance of our people, our readiness and taking in-the-moment questions from our squad.”
As nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) develops and evolves in the 21st Century, visits like this one from the Secretary of Defense seek to maximize understanding of USSTRATCOM challenges and highlight the command’s readiness. Opportunities like this one don’t come along very often, and USSTRATCOM and Team Offutt members made the most of this engagement with DoD’s top leader.