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SECDEF visits Team Whiteman, talks TFI on B-2 mission

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper  speaks with 509th and 131st Bomb Wing maintainers during a visit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. During his visit Esper received an in-person introduction to various aspects of Team Whiteman's mission, total-force integration with its Air National Guard partner unit and maintenance of B-2 Spirit combat readiness during COVID-19. Esper met with Airmen to discuss diversity and inclusion in the ranks — as he has done at DOD installations around the world in the last month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks with 509th and 131st Bomb Wing maintainers during a visit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. During his visit Esper received an in-person introduction to various aspects of Team Whiteman's mission, total-force integration with its Air National Guard partner unit and maintenance of B-2 Spirit combat readiness during COVID-19. Esper met with Airmen to discuss diversity and inclusion in the ranks — as he has done at DOD installations around the world in the last month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and his wife, Leah, meet base leaders at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. The Espers visited base leaders, Airmen, and military family members to learn about their experiences and get a firsthand understanding of Whiteman AFBs mission and resources available to Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Johns)

Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and his wife, Leah, meet base leaders at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. The Espers visited base leaders, Airmen, and military family members to learn about their experiences and get a firsthand understanding of Whiteman AFBs mission and resources available to Airmen and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Johns)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and his wife Leah receive a tour of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. Esper spoke with base leaders and Airmen to receive an in-depth understanding the combat readiness of the Air Force's only B-2 base, including development and employment of the B-2's combat capability as part of Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and his wife Leah receive a tour of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. Esper spoke with base leaders and Airmen to receive an in-depth understanding the combat readiness of the Air Force's only B-2 base, including development and employment of the B-2's combat capability as part of Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper bids a socially distanced farewell to Col. Jeffrey Schreiner, 509th Bomb Wing commander, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. Esper visited Whiteman AFB to engage with Airmen and senior leaders and get a firsthand understanding of the operations supporting the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Schreiner is responsible for the combat readiness of the Air Force's only B-2 base, including the development and employment of the B-2's combat capability as part of Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper bids a socially distanced farewell to Col. Jeffrey Schreiner, 509th Bomb Wing commander, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020. Esper visited Whiteman AFB to engage with Airmen and senior leaders and get a firsthand understanding of the operations supporting the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Schreiner is responsible for the combat readiness of the Air Force's only B-2 base, including the development and employment of the B-2's combat capability as part of Air Force Global Strike Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Barley)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper visited Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, July 22, 2020, to familiarize himself with Team Whiteman’s mission in maintaining global support and combat readiness.

During his visit, Esper spoke with base leaders and Airmen across the installation.

“It was an honor to highlight Team Whiteman’s unique mission and the Airmen who make it all possible to the Secretary of Defense,” said Col. Jeffrey Schreiner, 509th Bomb Wing commander. “Operating under COVID-19 conditions has not stopped our deterrence mission; we have maintained our readiness to strike anywhere, anytime when called upon.”

Whiteman is home to the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, which is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions.

“This is a very unique capability. There is no other capability like this in the world,” said Esper. “The people in this community and the people of Missouri should be proud.”

Esper noted the integration between the active duty 509th BW and the Air National Guard’s 131st BW, who work together to deliver the B-2 Spirit strategic bomber mission whenever and wherever it is needed.

“What particularly impressed me was the close relationship between the guard and active duty,” said Esper. “I’ve never seen integration like this. It’s a hand in glove relationship—seamless—and I’m very impressed with what I saw.”

Schreiner also touted the units in the partnership as the only two wings to perform the B-2 mission.

“Working side by side with our Air National Guard partners has been key to our success in facing today’s challenges,” said Schreiner. “Having the ability to seamlessly integrate our active duty and Guard Airmen allows us to meet the demands of constantly evolving technology and force readiness the mission requires.”

Esper thanked all the military members and Department of Defense civilians on WAFB for what they do and admired the support of the local community.

“I have heard nothing but good stories of how supportive the local community is,” said Esper. “It’s a testament to the close bond between the American people and our military.”