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Esper one of few defense secretaries to visit Minot AFB

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE – When Secretary of Defense Mark Esper visits Minot Air Force Base today, he will be one of few in this high-ranking position to visit the installation.

Esper’s wife, Leah, will accompany him to the base. Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer will join Esper at the base.

Minot AFB is the Defense Department’s only dual-wing, nuclear-capable base. The base has B-52 bombers and Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, the latter in underground facilities in the Minot missile field. The strategic bombers and land-based missiles are part of the nuclear triad. The third leg is the Navy’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Robert Gates, the 22nd secretary of defense who served from 2006-2011, made history as the first secretary of defense to visit Minot AFB.

Gates visited the base on Dec. 1, 2008. During his visit he had an upclose look at operations supporting the nuclear mission, including sitting inside the cockpit of a B-52 Stratofortress and viewing a simulated Minutemann III intercontinental ballistic missile launch facility. He addressed more than 1,000 airmen when he spoke to them in a base hangar.

Other secretaries of defense who have made visits to the Minot base include Chuck Hagel in November 2014, Ashton Carter in September 2016 and James Mattis in September 2017.

Esper was sworn in as the 27th secretary of defense in July 2019. Prior, he was acting secretary of defense. His career includes serving as secretary of the Army. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2007 after spending 10 years on active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve.

He is scheduled to tour Minot AFB and speak to airmen on Wednesday. His wife will also be speaking to airmen and spouses during the visit.

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