Chairman Checks Out Nuclear Mission at North Dakota Base
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D., Feb. 19, 2009 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted the progress Air Force officials have made in the service’s nuclear weapons program during a visit here yesterday. Video
In a town-hall meeting with Minot airmen, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said he came to see for himself the improvements the Air Force has made in its nuclear program in the wake of incidents that led to the resignations of the Air Force’s top civilian and military officials.
One of the incidents involved a bomber flying from here to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., while mistakenly armed with nuclear missiles.
“We’ve had significant challenges in the nuclear enterprise,” Mullen said, noting the high priority officials have placed on straightening out problems. “A lot of progress has been made, but we’re not there yet,” he added.
Mullen’s trip to the home of the 91st Missile Wing and its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles came just two months after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited the base to learn more about the nuclear program. The chairman said that although he’d come to check out progress in the nuclear mission, the chance to visit with the base’s airmen was the most important part of his visit.
“You are really why I came here,” he said. “You are part of the best military this [country] has ever fielded.”
The admiral also offered his thanks to military spouses for their support and sacrifices, and he cited possible instability related to the world financial crisis as a factor that poses important challenges in the months and years ahead.
The financial crisis will create instability not only in places officials easily can anticipate, Mullen said, but also in other places where the potential for instability isn’t as easily predictable. “I’m extremely concerned about this,” he said.
As they play their part in helping the U.S. military meet the challenges that lie ahead, Mullen told the airmen, they must keep in mind that being good leaders is part of their responsibility.
“Everybody is a leader,” he said. “I would ask that you … figure how to mentor someone who’s coming up behind you, and then get out of their way and see how [great they can be.]”