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SecAF visits Minot AFB Airmen

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson flies aboard a 54th Helicopter Squadron aircraft at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 7, 2017. On her first trip to Minot AFB as SECAF, Wilson toured both 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing facilities and assets. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson flies aboard a 54th Helicopter Squadron aircraft at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 7, 2017. On her first trip as SECAF to Minot AFB, Wilson toured both 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks with 705th Munitions Squadron Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 7, 2017. This was Wilson’s first visit to America’s only dual-wing, nuclear-capable military installation as SECAF.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks with 705th Munitions Squadron Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 7, 2017. This was Wilson’s first visit to America’s only dual-wing, nuclear-capable military installation as SecAF. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong)

SECAF visits Team Minot

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson fires an M-4 carbine at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 8, 2017. Wilson discussed upcoming upgrades and improvements to the CATM facility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)

SECAF visits Team Minot

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson attends a 741st Missile Squadron pre-brief at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 8, 2017. During her two-day visit, Wilson toured both 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing units and spoke with Airmen, emphasizing the importance of the nuclear deterrence mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson met with Airmen from the 5th Bomb Wing, 91st Missile Wing and community leaders during her first visit as SecAF to Minot Air Force Base, Sept. 7-8, 2017.

Her visit highlighted the importance of readiness, cost-effective modernization and leading from the front lines. As the only base in the Department of Defense that hosts two-thirds of the nuclear triad: the B-52H Stratofortress and Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, readiness is fundamental for both wings.

“I saw a lot of good things here on the support side, B-52 mission and missile mission. People are getting after it,” said Wilson. “One of the wonderful things of our Air Force and Airmen [is] if they’re given the skills and ability, they’re passionate about doing things right and focus on mission excellence in what is one of the core missions of the U.S. Air force: nuclear deterrence. That is clear and very strong here, and it’s great to see.”

A critical part of restoring readiness comes from Airmen driven to develop innovative solutions that meet growing challenges, Wilson continued. While she toured several facilities and spoke with Airmen about some of the challenges they face here, she discussed the priority of driving innovation to secure a strong future.

“We figure things out,” said Wilson. “The technical understanding of Airmen and their willingness to look at a problem and think about it in a different way and come up with a solution is really wonderful to watch. I met dozens of [Airmen] who are adding more tools to their toolbox so they can innovate and do things differently and better for the Air Force. My job is to get those rules and regulations that don’t make sense out of the way, or push down to lower levels the ability to wave some of those specific instructions to allow more innovation to take place.”

As the Air Force continues to build upon its core of innovation, Wilson encouraged Airmen at all levels to maintain their steadfast commitment to delivering unmatched capabilities every day, despite the challenges we face as a force.

“I think the greatest threat to the Air force right now, from my point of view with modernization is, what’s happening with the budget,” added Wilson. “We will have a continuing resolution which, with enough wiggle room, we can manage in a short period of time, but the reality is, if the country goes through sequester again, which we did in 2013, we will cause terrible damage to the service and our ability to defend the country. We are working really closely with congress, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and others to try and make sure we don’t devastate the service by going through sequester. We have to get beyond the budget control act.”

While Wilson works with Congressional leaders to ensure the Air Force remains unmatched as the premier, global airpower, she said the support from the City of Minot has been overwhelmingly positive.

“When I ask Airmen what they like most about Minot [AFB], they say ‘the people’, which is really good to hear, and it’s the people on base that they are working with, but it’s also the community at large,” said Wilson.

Wilson also talked about the importance of their continued support. From the community point of view, one of the most important things local leaders can do is work together to get through the challenges of the Budget Control Act.

“Knowing what a budget sequester and a flat budget can do to this base, it’s important to have the community stand up and support their leaders when they take those votes and do the right thing. If we were to have to operate at last year’s [budget] levels, some of the things needed to be done here, like fixing a firing range, are less likely to happen if Congress doesn’t fix those things.”

With such constant support from the local community, combined with unparalleled excellence from the Airmen of Minot AFB, Wilson said she is confident that the security of the nation’s shield rests in good hands.

“You will have the tools you need to do your job,” Wilson said. “We will have great leaders. We will dominate air and space. We will be a modernized force, and prevail against any enemy foolish enough to take on the United States Air Force.”