MINOT AIR FORCE BASE-The Air Force Space Command vice commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Deppe, visited here Feb. 26 -28 in an effort to boost morale, meet his airmen and reinforce the importance Rough Riders have in sustaining a successful nuclear enterprise. The base's 91st Missile Wing members are known as the Rough Riders.
"The nuclear enterprise is one of the Air Force's core responsibilities," Deppe said. "We do it better than anybody else and never let anyone tell you different."
The Air Force prides itself with the best nuclear enterprise program through its extensive training curriculum geared to prepare airmen for real-world defensive networks Rough Riders maintain and monitor 24/7.
Submitte Photo --
Maj. Gen. Thomas Deppe, Air Force Space Command vice commander, answers questions during an interview with the base Public Affairs shop Feb. 26, shown in this photo by Staff Sgt. Keith Ballard.
"Our airmen are sent through eight weeks of basic training at Lackland [AFB, Texas] and then to Vandenberg [AFB, Calif.] for their specialty training," Deppe continued. "Then they end up here working on intercontinental ballistic missiles. How amazing is that? But that's what we do and we do it every day, 365 days a year."
He said these airmen come from everywhere, using a generic term to capture every respective Rough Riders' past, prior to their commitment to the world's, "greatest Air Force."
"We have people up here, trained, who used to be 'John Q. Public,' " Deppe said. "And now they're working on ICBM's that protect this country, that deter an adversary, that can reach out and touch somebody half a planet away in 30 minutes."
However, Deppe didn't come to just talk about the importance of training his airmen and the weapon systems they maintain and support; he came here to reassure them of how important they are as members of an elite team, the 91st Missile Wing and the Air Force.
"Without the airmen that do this mission, there would be no mission," Deppe said. "The day-to-day operations of any one of our missile wings is the day-to-day activities that our airmen carry out."
Deppe said he wasn't just referring to airmen of lower ranks, but "airmen of all ranks. lieutenants who go out and pull alerts, sergeants and airmen who go out and fix ICBMs and keep them on alert; sergeants, lieutenants, airmen who go out there and secure this weapon system. Without them, there is no weapon system."
Deppe could not have picked a better weekend to visit Minot AFB. With wind chills well below minus 20, he experienced the challenging conditions 91st Missile Wing airmen complete their missions in on a daily basis.
"It is a vitally important job in demanding circumstances and that goes for every airman up here," he said.
Despite harsh weather conditions, Deppe had several key takeaways he wanted Minot airmen to understand from his visit.
"Everything they do up here is vitally important," continued Deppe. "I appreciate everything they do. Whether they're working in public affairs or security forces, operations or maintenance; it doesn't matter. If I was king for a day, I would do away with badges ... the only badge we wear that is really important is that badge that says, 'U.S. Air Force.' It puts us all on the same team. We're on the same team as the men and women down at Lackland or Randolph [AFB], Texas; Langley [AFB], Va., or Vandenberg [AFB], Calif. Nobody is any more or less important than anyone else in our Air Force."
The Airman's Creed is ever-present in the day-to-day duties of the Air Force's personnel. As the general pointed out, the badge bearing, 'U.S. Air Force,' affirms all airmen have at least one thing in common: they have all answered their nation's call as a wingman, leader and warrior.