U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke to 130 top performing Airmen on Thursday at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Hagel was there the boost the moral of the operators of 150 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.
“The United States is going to remain committed, strongly committed, to maintaining a capable and effective, safe, secure nuclear deterrent,” Hagel told the Airmen. “We’re going to do that, we’re going to continue to do that and we’re going to invest in the modernization that we need to invest in to keep that deterrent stronger than it’s ever been.”
Hagel commended the Airmen for their vigilance and thanked them for working so hard in a job he said is often lonely and thankless.
One of the Airmen asked Hagel about the future of ICBM’s in the nuclear triad and while Hagel said ICBM’s are to be credited with preventing World War III, he offered little assurance. Hagel said the U.S. is looking for ways to reduce its nuclear force under the new START Treaty and that everything is under review.
Hagel did not talk about the Montana missile officers who were recently removed from duty because they’re under investigation for illegal narcotics, but told the Airmen that their standards should never be compromised.
The last visit by a Secretary of Defense to F.E. Warren AFB was in 1982.