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Remarks by the Vice President to Airmen at Minot Air Force Base in Minot, North Dakota

October 27, 2017

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, and please be at ease. It's an honor to be here with the men and women of Minot Air Force Base in "Magic City" North Dakota where every day, the Warbirds, the Rough Riders, and everyone from Team Minot embody the motto of the Global Strike Command: "Deter, assure, and strike." You are the pride of the nation. Give yourselves another round of applause, would you please? (Applause.)

And I want to thank Secretary Wilson for that kind introduction and for those inspiring words. Would you all mind giving the 24th United States Secretary of the Air Force, an 11-year veteran of the Air Force, another round-of-applause? Secretary Heather Wilson, we are grateful for your leadership. (Applause.)

Let me also thank the commanders of the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing for the hospitality they've shown us today, their record of leadership in the Air Force, their service to our nation, Colonel Matthew Brooks and Colonel Colin Connor, two incredible leaders. (Applause.)

Also, it's a great privilege for me to be joined today by three North Dakotans who are outstanding leaders who fight every day to support this base in its core mission, that strengthen this state. I'm honored to be joined by Congressman Kevin Cramer, Senator John Hoeven and Governor Doug Burgum. Give them a round of applause, would you please? Thank you. (Applause.)

And I bring greetings today from your Commander-in-Chief, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.) The Good Book tells us: If you owe debts, pay debts; if honor, then honor; if respect, then respect.

And I stand before you today on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief and on behalf of a grateful nation to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who have stepped forward to wear the uniform of the United States at such a time as this.

I spoke to the President this morning shortly after I arrived on the base, told him I was going to be spending the day with all of you, and he said, tell them I love them, and tell them we're proud of every single one of them at Minot Air Force Base.

The American people also couldn't be more proud of all of you. As President Trump has said, in his words, you're the backbone of this country. You are the spirit of this nation in every sense.

The airmen of Minot Air Force Base and all of your fellow Americans serving across the globe have volunteered to defend our freedom and our way of life. You are the best of us, and it's an honor to be with you all.

But we know that most of you do serve alone. The spouses and children and parents who support you, who pray for you as you serve our nation deserve our thanks as well. Would you join me in thanking all the family members whose love and support and prayers makes your service possible? (Applause.)

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first unit to take flight from this field, the 32nd Fighter Group. And every day since, Minot Air Force Base has answered America's strategic needs and exemplified American leadership in the skies. This Air Force base is the bedrock of America's national security and stability across the wider world.

With a fleet of 26 B-52 bombers and 150 intercontinental ballistic missile sites, you are the only military installation in America to host two of the three legs in the nuclear triad. Minot Air Force Base is vital to the Global Strike Command's mission to provide strategic deterrence, global strike and combat support anytime, anywhere. And the two units stationed here embody this mission, and like the giants on whose shoulders you stand, you prove every day that "only the best come north." (Applause.)

The legendary 5th Bomb Wing dates back nearly a century. For 35 years, it operated under continuous alert status -- it's remarkable to think about it -- standing at the ready to fly anywhere in the world anytime to protect our people and defend our freedom. And today, the members of the 5th Bomb Wing are continually deployed across the globe in combat and support operations, supporting our efforts in the global war on terror. Make no mistake about it, America is safer and more secure today because you are the Guardians of the Upper Realm.

Since 1959, the airmen of the 91st Missile Wing have faithfully, as well, served as America's silent sentinels -- operating, maintaining, and securing the most powerful weapons in our nation's arsenal -- the Minuteman III and intercontinental ballistic missiles. And you remain on continuous around-the-clock alert -- 24/7, year-round -- to make sure that our nation's deterrent capabilities are ready at a moment's notice. As your motto says, with the 91st Missile Wing at the helm, the United States is, and will always be, "poised for peace."

The success of the United States Armed Forces and the safety of the American people and our allies have long depended on the nuclear deterrence posture maintained here at Minot Air Force Base. And today, your vigilance and your strength are more vital and more important than ever before.

As we speak, the world, arguably, is a more dangerous place than at any point since the fall of communism more than a quarter century ago. And that's why, in the first nine months of this administration, President Trump has taken decisive action to make the strongest military in the world stronger still. The threats we face today mean that, once again, America's security and our very future depend on the airmen of Minot being ready and being prepared.

It's a great honor for me to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, their families, and our veterans. I believe that history will record that President Donald Trump is the best friend the Armed Forces of the United States will ever have.

I mean just look at what we've accomplished already. Our President has already signed the largest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years. And as we speak, we're working with the Congress to pass the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. Under this Commander-in-Chief, the era of budget cuts to the American military are over. (Applause.)

And you can also be assured that our administration is committed to strengthen and modernize America's nuclear deterrent. History attests the surest path to peace is through American strength. There's no greater element of American strength, there's no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal. This bedrock of freedom deters potential adversaries, protects and assures our allies, and it proves every day to the world the United States has both the will and the firepower to annihilate any existential threat to our people or our homeland.

I can assure you that President Trump is committed -- committed to ensure that the United States maintains an effective nuclear deterrent that's capable of meeting the unpredictable threats of the 21st century and beyond.

That's why, earlier this year, the President directed the Secretary of Defense to conduct a comprehensive review of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear capabilities as part of a nuclear posture review. And as a sign of his commitment to strengthen our deterrent, Secretary Mattis, as you know, visited this air base just a few short weeks ago to see, as I did today, firsthand our nuclear forces and to meet the men and women who operate them and maintain them.

The findings from the Nuclear Posture Review will be released in the months ahead. And under President Trump's leadership, we'll make sure that our nuclear deterrent is stronger than ever before -- modern, robust, flexible, resilient, and ready to confront any and all enemies of peace with rapid, effective, and overwhelming response.

And I'll make you a promise: Under President Trump's leadership, we're going to rebuild our military, we're going to restore the arsenal of democracy, and we will once again, as a nation, give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and the training you need and deserve to accomplish your mission and come home safe. That's my promise to every one of you and your families. (Applause.)

And with that renewed American strength, this President has made it clear that America will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies. In Afghanistan, as we speak, our Commander-in-Chief has committed our armed forces to remain engaged in the fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups in the region until we eliminate that threat to our homeland and our people once and for all.

President Trump, just a few short days ago, put Iran on notice when he announced that our administration will no longer certify the disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal, and we will no longer tolerate Tehran's support of global terrorism.

And today, thanks to the courage of our armed forces and the resolve of our Commander-in-Chief, in Syria and Iraq, ISIS is on the run.

Three years ago, those barbarians celebrated in the streets of their self-declared capital of Raqqa, where they proclaimed the start of a thousand-year caliphate and raised their black flags across the region as they began to perpetrate their unspeakable violence on innocent civilians. But thanks to the Armed Forces of the United States of America, those black flags don't fly in Raqqa anymore. (Applause.)

Just last week, American and allied forces liberated Raqqa and many of you were a part of that historic victory. America is defeating ISIS because the brave men and women of Minot took the fight to ISIS in the air, and on the ground, and I came to say thanks to the team here at Minot for a job well done. (Applause.)

The B-52s of the 5th Wing were responsible for over 700 danger-close strikes to support our coalition for freedom in the region. And I know all of you know you couldn't have achieved those missions without the skill and hard work of your maintainers who kept those jets in the air, day after day without interruption.

So let me take a moment to thank all of you who just returned from that dessert mission -- the crews and the maintainers, their families, and your loved ones who quietly bore the burden here at home. Thanks to your bravery, across Syria and Iraq, the caliphate is crumbling and we will not rest, we will not relent until we hunt down and completely destroy ISIS at its source. We will finish the mission that you have been so vital to advancing. (Applause.)

In just a few days, President Trump will travel to another frontline of freedom where so many of your fellow members of the armed forces stand guard to protect our people, and our allies, and our way of life -- the Korean Peninsula.

In the face of ongoing threats and provocations by the regime in North Korea, I can assure you the United States will continue to marshal economic and diplomatic pressure to demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

While President Trump has made clear that the United States has, in his words, "great strength and patience," all options are on the table. Our enemies should never doubt the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Anyone who would threaten our nation should know that America always seeks peace, but if we are forced to defend ourselves or our allies, we will do so with military power that is effective and overwhelming.

And those gathered here at Minot Air force Base will play a critical role, again. Now more than ever, your Commander-in-Chief is depending on you to be ready, stay sharp, mind your mission, and your airmen, and be that credible deterrent that has assured the security of the American people for generations.

The brave men and women of Minot Air Force base may yet be called upon to be the instruments of American power. And if that day comes, we know you will be prepared. Bully.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's deeply humbling for me to stand before you today, before so many heroic Americans. Because as you see, while I'm the son of a combat veteran, and I'm the proud father of an aviator in the United States Marine Corps, my life didn't take me into the uniform of the United States. But I've seen you all in action.

Back in the spring of 2003, I traveled with a small delegation of congressmen to visit soldiers downrange in Operation Iraqi Freedom. On our way back, I was inspired to visit the airmen stationed at RAF Fairford, in England.

I'll never forget the sight of seeing the last B-52 lumber down the runway and leap into the air on its way home to North Dakota. I witnessed the power and professionalism of the airmen of Minot, firsthand.

In America, we maintain peace through strength. I saw that day, just like I've seen today, you are America's strength. And know that President Trump and I understand that your service comes with great sacrifice, with long deployments, and with hardship.

But I want to assure you today that you do not bear that burden alone. You have the gratitude of a Commander-in-Chief, our entire administration, and your representatives in Washington, and leaders in the Congress are standing with you and stand by you.

Each and every one of you also carries with you the gratitude and the pride of every American. And as the airmen of Minot Air Force Base take to the skies -- let me say in one other way, I hope you also know that you never go alone. In one other way, the Old Book tells us that, if you rise on the wings of the dawn, if you go up to the heavens, even there His hand will guide you. His right hand will hold you fast.

So as you take to the air, as you take a stand for freedom, just know that you go -- you go on the wings of grace and the grateful prayers of the American people, who pray every day for God's protection as you serve and as you defend this nation and our freedom.

So to the men and women of Minot Air Force Base, on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief and a grateful nation, thank you for your service. Thank you for your vigilance.

May God bless you. May God bless your families and your mission and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President to Airmen at Minot Air Force Base in Minot, North Dakota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/331597

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