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Nellis Air Force Base

Las Vegas, Nevada

4:05 P.M. PST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you all for that warm welcome.  Secretary Wilson, General Goldfeen, General Gersten, General Holmes, General Leavitt, and Colonel Murray, it is my great honor to join you here at the “home of the fighter pilot,” the flagship of the United States Air Force — Nellis Air Force Base.  (Applause.)

And I bring greetings to all of you, first and foremost from your Commander-in-Chief, a tireless champion of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

Every time I tell the President that I’m going to have a chance to be among our troops, he tells me the same thing.  He looks at me across that Resolute Desk, and he says, “Just tell them I’m proud of them.”  And I know in my heart that all the American people couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of you.

Senator Heller, I want to thank you for that kind introduction.  And more than that, I want to thank Senator Dean Heller for all he does for the men and women who wear the uniform here in the Silver State.  He is a tireless advocate for Nellis Air Force Base and our armed forces, and we are all grateful for your outstanding leadership in our national defense.  (Applause.)

Let me also say I’m grateful to be joined, as well, by a strong leader for Nevada and for Nellis Air Force Base, himself a seven-year veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s an honor to be here with our attorney general, Adam Laxalt.  (Applause.)

The Good Book says that if you owe debts, pay debts; if honor, then honor; if respect, then respect.

I stand before you today, on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief and a grateful nation, to pay a debt of honor and respect and gratitude to each and every one of you.

As President Trump has said, “You are the backbone of this country.  You are the spirit of this nation in every sense.”

You stood up and stepped forward to protect our families and our freedom.  You chose to put on the uniform of the greatest all-volunteer military the world has ever seen.

Let me say emphatically, the Armed Forces of the United States of America are the world’s greatest force for good.  (Applause.)

And you chose to be a part of that force, to follow in the contrails of our nation’s greatest heroes.  You chose to do your part in this time, to leave a legacy of freedom for generations yet to come.

And while you come from the rest of us, I know you are the best of us.  So give yourselves a round of applause for stepping forward to wear the uniform and serve the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Thank you for your service.

Let me also take a moment to thank all the loved ones, the family members who are here with us today.  I know that you chose to enlist, but it’s families who serve.  So would you join me in showing a round of applause and appreciation for all those who stand by you, who pray with you, and who make your service to America possible every day?  Let’s give our families a round of applause.  (Applause.)

It’s a particular honor for me to be here today at Nellis Air Force Base.  This base is essential to America’s national security.  But you already know that.  For more than 75 years,  in these halls, and on these runways, and in the vast expanse above us, our nation’s airmen have prepared to fly and to fight for freedom.  And fight they have.

Nearly 60,000 gunners trained here before they took wing in the Second World War.  Many of our fighter aces from Korea and Vietnam sharpened their skills in these skies.

And to this day, Nellis Air Force Base trains “the best combat aviators in the world.”

As we speak, I know nearly 600 of your own members are in the skies and in the fight, and we think of them at this hour.  As we speak, this base is hosting the “Weapons and Tactics Conference,” where our warfighters tackle some of the most pressing problems facing our national security.

But as all of you know year-round, through the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, this base is laser-focused on “testing, tactics, and training.”

From the Weapons School, where the best of the best train with our nation’s most lethal technology; to Exercise Red Flag, which gives our pilots and our allies a realistic combat experience; to the “knitter,” a training range complex unlike any in the world; to the Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, to the Thunderbirds, you inspire America and the world.

What happens here keeps the Armed Forces of the United States on the cutting edge of both strategy and strength.  And as the saying does, “as goes Nellis, so goes the Air Force.”

So to all the men and women of Nellis Air Force Base, on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief, I came here today to say thanks.  I also came here today to assure you that your work is vitally important to our national security, and that America now more than ever needs your excellence, your expertise, and your dedication.

The truth is the world is more dangerous today than at any point since the fall of communism a quarter-century ago.  Rogue regimes seek to threaten our people and endanger our allies.  The menace of radical Islamic terrorism continues to rear its ugly head.  And adversaries new and old have arisen to challenge American leadership on the world stage.

In these dangerous times, it’s you — the men and women of the armed forces; warfighters, tacticians, and trainers of Nellis Air Force Base — who must continue to push the boundaries of American strength and who will be called upon to defend our freedom from any who would threaten it.

And today, let me assure you, President Donald Trump has your back.  (Applause.)

In fact, I believe when the history books are written, they’ll show that President Trump was the best friend the Armed Forces of the United States have ever had.

In the first six months in office, our President signed the largest increase in military spending in nearly 10 years.  And just last month, with the strong support of Nevada’s representatives in the Congress and Senator Dean Heller, President Donald Trump signed the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan.  (Applause.)

As we speak, our administration is working with Nevada’s leaders in Congress to pass legislation to fund the government, the most important part of which is to fund our common defense.

Within the next week, Congress will face a deadline for funding the government and funding our military.  As the men and women of Nellis Air Force Base know all too well, the budget sequester placed a tremendous burden on our military for the past five years.  It forced deep cuts in our defense budget.  It prevented the investments and innovation we need to expand American strength.

But those days are over.  And thanks to this Commander-in-Chief, the era of budget cuts to the Armed Forces of the United States is about to end.  (Applause.)

So Congress has a job to do, and just a few days to do it. Discussions are underway, negotiations continue, but standing before all you heroes, President Trump and I have a message for Washington, D.C. — it’s time to set aside partisan differences.  It’s time to come together as Americans, and it’s time for Congress to once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and support that you need to accomplish your mission and come home safe.  The American people and all of you deserve nothing less.  (Applause.)

We must keep President Trump’s promise to make the strongest military in the history of the world even stronger.  Because as the men and women of Nellis Air Force Base know, we can only be assured of peace through strength.

With renewed strength, America is once again standing with our allies and standing up to our enemies.  There is no greater threat to our people and our way of life than the menace of radical Islamic terrorism.  But at this very moment, with the leadership, support, and courage of warfighters who trained here, and those that are gathered here, I’m pleased to report that we taking the fight to terrorists as never before — on our terms, on their soil.  (Applause.)

In Afghanistan, President Trump directed our armed forces to renew the fight against the Taliban and all terrorist groups who call the region home.  And today, your brothers and sisters in arms are winning renewed victories against our enemies in that ancient land.

We’ve put the leading state sponsor of terrorism on notice.  President Trump has made it clear that we will no longer tolerate Iran’s attempts to sow chaos across the wider world.

And with the courage of our armed forces and the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief, in Iraq and in Syria, ISIS is on the run.  The capital of its so-called caliphate has crumbled, and we will not rest, we will relent until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source — so it can no longer threaten our people, our allies, or our way of life.  (Applause.)

Nellis Air Force Base is playing a vital role in the fight against global terrorism and in all of those far fields away.  The fight against ISIS, the Taliban, and conflicts across the globe, it’s Nellis Air Force Base that’s making a difference.  And the warfighters who train here, who deploy from here, and some of you who are gathered here today who are preparing to deploy even as we speak are taking freedom’s fight to the enemy.

And beyond the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, you’ve also prepared pilots who fly in the skies above a great frontier of freedom on the Korean Peninsula.

In the face of ongoing threats and provocations by the regime in North Korea, I can assure you, the resolve of the United States is firm.  We will continue to marshal economic and diplomatic pressure to demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  But as President Trump has made clear, all options are on the table.

Our enemies should never doubt the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.  And any who dare threaten our nation should know that while Americans always seeks peace, if we are forced to defend ourselves and our allies, we will do so with military power that is effective and overwhelming, and we will win a victory for freedom.  (Applause.)

You, the brave men and women of Nellis Air Force Base, may yet be called into action.  You are the instruments of American power.  So on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief, I admonish you:  Be ready, mind your mission, take care of one another, train as never before.  The American people are counting on you, and we know you’ll be there.

It’s humbling always for me to stand before so many heroes.  My life never took me into the uniform of the United States.  I’m the proud son of a combat veteran from the United States Army, and I’m the father of a United States Marine, an aviator at that.

But I know firsthand, being a part of a family that has served, the sacrifice that comes with your service.  The sacrifice in your lives — in the lives of your families.  And I want to say to you, just know that you do not bear that burden alone.  You carry with you the strength and pride of the people of this nation.

And let me also assure you that each and every day, you are borne aloft by the prayers of the American people.  We pray for you, for your families, and your mission.  And we also pray that as you take to the skies and prepare those who fly, that you might do so with confidence in those ancient words, and know in your hearts that, if you rise on the wings of the dawn, if you go up to the heavens, even there, His hand will guide you, and His right hand will hold you fast.

So thank you for your service.  Thank you for your warm welcome today.  Your service and your leadership speaks louder than any words I could say today.  And as I look out across this flight line, I know in my heart, as long as we have men and women with the courage to serve, like all of you, as long as this nation produces heroes willing to put their lives on the line, as long as America produces patriots like you, our country will be safe.  Our freedoms will be secure.  And the best days for the greatest nation on Earth are yet to come.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God Bless Nellis Air Force Base and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)


5:21 P.M. PST