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Public Papers - 1990 - July

Remarks at the Francis Earl Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming

1990-07-20

Let me just say that I did want to stop by here at Warren, and it's wonderful to be with you all. I understand that you've had your share of visitors lately, so I promise not to overstay. [Laughter] Not only the Soviets, but the Inspector General just were here.

But you and other missileers throughout the SAC [Strategic Air Command] are working hard every single day to maintain a strong deterrent. Your ears should be burning when you hear the colonel telling us about the quality of the men and women serving here, a view also expressed by those Senators and our Congressmen from Wyoming who take pride not only in having you as professionals but in the work that this command does to help others in the community. So, I salute you not only for your professionalism but for the way you're doing something here to help others. You work hard every day, maintaining this strong deterrent. Along with the strategic bomber crews and the submarine crews, your commitment to vigilance has helped create the conditions for the changes we are witnessing today. There can be no doubt about that whatsoever.

As we strive for strength and stability, we must maintain an effective deterrent especially in the face of continuing across-the-board modernization of the Soviet strategic forces. Now, this won't be easy in the fiscal environment that we face now. We all recognize that we must get the deficit under control, and the defense will contribute its share. But I don't want defense to contribute more than its share, and I'm asking Congress to hold the line at the already painful reduction in the defense budget set down by the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this week. There were some positive things for the committee, especially their support of strategic modernization -- as well as some actions, on the other hand, that cause me problems.

One point I want to emphasize today is that the deeper and more painful the cuts in the defense budget, the greater is my need for flexibility from the Congress in order to manage these funds. We must have an orderly build-down, not some kind of a fire sale. I especially need that flexibility so that the bedrock of the military, its highly trained, highly motivated, and exceptionally dedicated men and women -- people such as you -- will be protected. I cannot support reductions in the defense budget that would unfairly penalize those of you who have given so much to our country.

When senior Soviet officers visited the United States military bases several years ago, the thing that impressed them the most was the talent, confidence, commitment, and responsibility of junior officers and enlisted men and women. The Soviets know what deters, and so does this President. And I just wanted to come by, thank you, encourage you to keep up the great work.

Actually, I'm personally well-acquainted with the quality people that serve here at F.E. Warren. John Gordon -- you may remember Colonel John Gordon, your commander through May of last year -- he's now back in Washington, advising us on a host of questions on our strategic forces, on our arms control. So, you've got a voice in the White House. And, John, thank you. Pleased to see you, and great to visit with all your fellow wingmates and fellow missileers.

Thank you very much for what you're doing. I hate to hit and run like this, but I did want to come by and pay my respects, learn something, and thank you for your dedication and commitment to the greatest country on the face of the Earth. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. in the Peacekeeper missile training silo area. In his opening remarks, he referred to Col. Richard Farkas, wing commander. Following his remarks, the President went fishing at Middle Crow Creek and then returned to Washington, DC.

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