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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

American Forces Press Service

Hagel Lauds Nuclear Enterprise Airmen As 'Indispensable' in National Security

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2014 – On the first stop of his five-day domestic trip to interact with military members, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today praised what he called the "reliable and effective" airmen who support the nuclear enterprise at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.

The same day the Pentagon announced the results of a nuclear enterprise military review, Hagel met with airmen to report that the matter requires constant focus, leadership, attention, management and resources.

Shaping the Future

Hagel told his audience today's young officers and enlisted leaders face those challenges.

"They are the ones [who] shape the enterprise for the future," Hagel said. "You all are the ones who will ascend to these important leadership responsibilities."

Noting the world's unprecedented complexities and constant changes, Hagel told airmen the evolution will continue at a rapid rate.

"We can't turn that back, but we can help shape it, as the United States has shaped the global environment with our allies since World War II," Hagel said.

But Hagel also acknowledged the spread of freedom and the absence of a World War III.

"There are more people free in the world today than ever before … with options … possibilities [and] more hope," he said.

Though that freedom yields greater challenges, the need to understand the military's role persists, he said, responding to and anticipating crises while thinking and planning for the future.

"When you think about what's going on in the Middle East … it isn't about less expression or less freedom," he said. "But so much is going on in the world that if we can see through it … plan … and invest in the future … we'll come out better and stronger at the other end."

Hagel noted collaboration between the Air Force and Navy in their nuclear endeavors, and described reviewer suggestions such as upgrading equipment, vehicles and facility repairs.

Hagel also noted the need for cultural change, particularly from information he garners from young officers across varying family and personal situations in the nuclear enterprise. "Some of you want to stay and will stay in this business that you're in; others will want varying experiences."

Investing in People

Hagel said he insists the quality of military people is the most critical element of the defense enterprise.

"I don't want to preside over a time at the Pentagon, nor does {Air Force] Secretary Deborah James and all of our leaders, that we allowed that to go down," Hagel said. "The responsibility of leadership is to prepare for the future, prepare an institution for the future."

Whether in dealings with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Russians, Ebola or endemic health issues, the secretary said the United States cannot neglect its current or future investment in people.

"You are an indispensable element of our national security," Hagel said. "You are the main deterrent for the security of this country … and we can't overlook that or take that for granted, ever."



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