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Hagel visits Airmen, stresses importance of mission, gratitude

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (AFNS) --

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing here Jan. 9 to learn about the ICBM mission and the people who operate, maintain, secure and support the Minuteman III weapon system.

Hagel also took time to speak to Airmen who were selected as top performers by their leadership during an Airmen's event here. 

"One of the reasons I wanted to come here was to first see for myself what you are doing," Hagel said. "And to personally thank you for what you're doing and reemphasize how important your mission is, how important your work is, how we depend on your professionalism, and how (well) you do your work."

Hagel stressed the gratitude he has for Airmen in the ICBM mission, including extending the appreciation and well wishes from U.S. President Barack Obama. 

"There is no more noble profession in the world than your profession to keep peace in the world," Hagel said. "The slogan does matter 'Peace through Strength' and you do it very, very well." 

The secretary went on to talk about the impact families bring to the mission here and how their support makes it all possible.

"I want to thank your families for what they do," Hagel said. "The kind of sacrifice your families make for our country allows you to do what you do. Give your families our thanks on behalf of the president, the secretary of defense, all of us. We recognize those sacrifices and we appreciate it."

Hagel talked about the Airmen's professionalism, commitment and attitude, and that these all support the ICBM mission to provide a safe, secure and effective weapon system.

"You have chosen a profession where there is no room for error," Hagel said. "What you do every day, there is no room for error. You know that. The American people expect that. And we have great confidence that's the way we are going to continue to do our job."

When addressing budget concerns, Hagel reassured Airmen that the U.S. will be committed to making sure necessary resources would always be available for the 90th MW and 20th Air Force to accomplish the mission. 

"You are doing something for the greater good of the world," Hagel said. "You are doing something important for your families, your future, for your country and for our security. We may not go to war every day, but we have to always remember that every day we help prevent war, and we do that better than anyone else, and we will continue to do that."

Hagel's comments stressed that it's people who accomplish the mission, and it's the efforts of those people who make sure the country remains safe and secure. 

"We each are people first before we are Airmen, before we're Sailors, before we're infantrymen, before we're anything else," he said. "In the end, that's who we are. Good people are good people. How you do your job really is just as important as the job itself because it sets a standard of expectation for you and everyone around you."

Hagel said it's important for leadership to make base visits and learn first-hand about how the job is done rather than relying on reports or briefings.

"It is important for leaders to come out and see things at the ground level and see what's going on," he said. "There is nothing like being out in the field with the people and seeing how they do (their jobs)." 

As Hagel wrapped up the Airmen's event, he personally coined each Airman, thanking them for their efforts and commitment to the mission. 

"What the 20th Air Force represents, and particularly the 90th Missile Wing, is not only impressive, but important," Hagel said. "And it continues to be important to our country and our future and to our security."

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