WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2014 – The nation depends on the professionalism of service members like the airmen of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today on a visit to the base.
“We have all the great technology in the world — and we have better technology than anyone — and we are the strongest country on Earth … but it takes people, it takes leadership, it takes commitment,” Hagel told the airmen.
Through investments in modernization and by focusing on reducing the nuclear stockpile under the START II treaty, the United States is demonstrating its commitment to maintaining a capable and safe nuclear deterrent, he said.
“It’s clearly in our national security interests,” Hagel said.
“And as I had an opportunity to view some of this today to get down really where the operational dynamics are real, and not just theory or in PowerPoint presentations, but it’s clear that we’ve got some work to do on modernization,” the defense secretary said.
Hagel told the airmen that the American people have great confidence in their ability to perform under extraordinary conditions.
“You’ve also chosen a profession where there’s no room for error. In what you do every day, there is no room for error, none,” he said.
Under such conditions, Hagel said, it’s important to constantly hone and develop personal, professional and institutional skills. Because even though the nation doesn’t go to war every day, the defense secretary said, “every day we help prevent war. That’s what we are about. And we do that better than anyone else.”
“How you do the job is really as important as the job itself, because it sets a standard of expectation for yourselves and for everybody around you,” Hagel said. “You’re all leaders. You’re all role models. And that’s a heavy burden to carry.”
The defense secretary was on the final stop of a two-day trip to bases in Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas.