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U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson answers a question during an interview on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne. Wilson was sworn in as secretary on May 16, 2017. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Nuclear deterrence will continue to be a large part of the United States’ military defense.

That’s part of the message U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson brought with her when she visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base this week.

Wilson sat down with members of the local media Wednesday morning to answer some questions about the role of the Air Force in the nation’s security and the role of F.E. Warren within the Air Force.

Lt. Nikita Thorpe, a public affairs officer, said in an email that Wilson visited F.E. Warren “to emphasize the importance of the 90th Missile Wing’s role in deterrence and to thank the airmen for ensuring the mission is accomplished every day.”

During a media engagement session Wednesday afternoon, Wilson did stress F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s integral role in the nation’s defense through deterrence.

“If we’re ready to do our missions any day, it’s much less likely that the military will be called upon to carry out those missions, because deterrence works, and no one knows that better than F.E. Warren Air Force Base,” Wilson said.

“This is America’s nuclear deterrent, and it’s very important to the country. We want to make sure that we’re ready to do our mission any day, anytime, anywhere.”

She added that the same readiness applies to all missions within the Air Force.

“Our focus right now is to restore the readiness of the force and to cost-effectively modernize it,” Wilson said.

She explained that the Air Force lost about 30,000 airmen following the government sequestration and the budgetary uncertainties that went along with it. The Air Force is adding about 4,000 airmen back to the force this year, she said.

Wilson said Secretary of Defense James Mattis deserves a lot of credit for helping Congress and the Trump administration reach a budget agreement that she said will benefit the military.

“We have a two-year budget deal with a significant increase in resources, and the intent is to try to get back to restored readiness and to get after some of the modernization issues that have just been left behind,” Wilson said.

One of those modernizations she referred to includes a replacement currently in development for the LGM-30 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, as part of a revamping of the ground-based strategic deterrent plans. Wilson said when that replacement is prepared, F.E. Warren will receive those new missiles.

“(The) national defense strategy reaffirms the importance of nuclear deterrent. And the nuclear posture review reaffirmed that America should have a triad. We should have a sea-based leg, an air-based leg and a ground-based strategic deterrent,” Wilson said.

“Nuclear weapons have helped keep the peace for over 60 years, and they continue to do so today.”

Kristine Galloway is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached at kgalloway@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3184. Follow her on Twitter @KGalloway_WTE.

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