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Carter visits Minot, emphasizes nuclear mission

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter Speaks to Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 26, 2016. Carter toured the base and visited with Airman from both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing. The tour included visiting a missile alert facility, a B-52 Stratofortress and talking with Airmen who support the nuclear deterrence mission at the Northern Tier base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks to Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 26, 2016. Carter toured the base and visited with Airmen from both the 5th Bomb and the 91st Missile Wings. The tour included visiting a missile alert facility, a B-52H Stratofortress and talking with Airmen who support the nuclear deterrence mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks with Airmen at M-01 Missile Alert Facility, N.D., Sept. 26, 2016. Carter spoke with Airmen from the 5th BW and 91st MW and toured several facilities, to include a missile alert facility and a B-52H Stratofortress static display. To conclude his visit, Carter hosted a question and answer session with base personnel and recognized top performing Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jessica Weissman)

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks with Airmen at a missile alert facility in North Dakota Sept. 26, 2016. Carter spoke with Airmen from the 5th Bomb and the 91st Missile Wings and toured several facilities, to include a missile alert facility and a B-52H Stratofortress static display. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Jessica Weissman)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter speaks to Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 26, 2016. Carter toured the base and visited with Airman from both the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing. The tour included visiting a missile alert facility, a B-52 Stratofortress and a question and answer session with troops and personnel from the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks to Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Sept. 26, 2016. Carter toured the base and visited with Airmen from both the 5th Bomb and the 91st Missile Wings. The tour included visiting a missile alert facility, a B-52H Stratofortress and a Q&A session with troops and personnel from the base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristoffer Kaubisch)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS) -- Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Minot Air Force Base Sept. 26, giving Airmen who support the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile and strategic bomber forces a chance to engage with him.

During the visit to the 5th Bomb and 91st Missile Wings, Carter emphasized the importance of the Defense Department’s only dual-wing, nuclear capable installation.

While touring a missile alert facility in rural North Dakota, Carter witnessed firsthand the work Airmen accomplish on a daily basis, and emphasized the importance of their roles in defending the U.S.

“This is the most important mission we have,” Carter said. “I’m proud of you, and I appreciate you guys.”

The secretary mirrored those feelings while meeting with 5th BW Airmen, as he toured a B-52H Stratofortress and the weapons storage area. He recognized outstanding performers from both the 5th BW and 91st MW for their commitment to the mission.

“America’s nuclear deterrence is the bedrock of our security and the highest priority mission of the Department of Defense,” Carter said. “It’s a mission that demands unparalleled excellence; excellence that you define. We count on you for that.”

Carter said for more than seven decades, the nuclear deterrence mission has given nuclear enterprise options directly to the president of the United States. He also explained how Minot AFB’s mission plays a part in all other DOD missions.

“On a broader, operational level, on more day-to-day basis, you enable American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to accomplish their conventional missions around the world,” he said.

Carter concluded with remarks on the need to constantly enhance the nuclear missions, and keep them a priority.

“How we deter cannot be static,” Carter said. “It must adapt as threats evolve, while continuing to preserve strategic stability, reinforcing nuclear restraint rather than inviting competition or attack. That’s important because it illustrates how strong deterrence doesn’t lower the threshold for nuclear war, instead it raises it.”

Carter thanked the Minot AFB community and stressed their impact on the mission.

“For all Americans, and for that matter, all people all over the world, the bedrock of security you provide has enabled millions and millions to get up in the morning to go to school, go to work, to live their lives, to dream their dreams and to give their children a better future,” he said.