Upgrades to nuclear triad highlight Defense Secretary's Minot visit

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MINOT AIR FORCE BASE - For the fourth time since 2014, the leader of the Department of Defense met with airmen in person in the Magic City.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with airmen and local media at Minot Air Force Base about the president's new defense budget, how to address drug issues on base, and China.

But improvements to our nation's defense came front and center.

Modernization, improvements, and the future for Minot Air Force Base. Esper addressed it all during his visit.

“It is very critical that the triad remains modern that it remains effective,” said Esper.

Before holding a town hall with airmen, Esper fielded questions on the needs to improve the nuclear triad.

Minot houses two of three parts—the 5th Bomb Wing and the 91st Missile Wing.

“To demonstrate the importance that Minot and the two missions it has here, the bomber and missile mission have to our nation, to keeping it safe and secure and to deter war,” said Esper.

Esper said Trump's new budget reflected efforts to make upgrades in Minot.

“Modernization for our strategic nuclear forces is priority number one so we made it priority number one in our budget,” he said.

Earlier this month, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told Your News Leader the president's budget will increase the helicopters by eight aircraft. It will also increase the ground-based strategic deterrent, replacing the minuteman missiles, to the tune of nearly $1 billion.

“The budget that just came out certainly reflects the priority that groundbreaking strategic deterrent certainly the helicopters as well the re-engining plan for the B-52,” said Cramer.

Congress will continue to work on the budget in the coming months and it will be finalized by October.

Esper made sure to thank the airmen for their service, and also mentioned that his wife spoke with spouses on base to see how they could improve anything for them as well.