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Secretary of State visits PSAB

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Charles
  • 378th Air Expeditionary Wing

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, visited U.S. Forces stationed at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Feb. 20, 2020.

The tour of the Royal Saudi Air Force installation, 4-5 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, and the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing allowed him the opportunity to discuss military-related issues with commanders conducting missions in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.

“Building alliances and partnerships is foundational to our approach – from the Secretary of Defense to the individual Soldier and Airman at PSAB,” said Brig. Gen. John Walker, 378 AEW commander. “The visit from the U.S.’s top diplomat underscores our nation’s desire to strengthen our alliances and attract new partners to our mission of deterring malign actors.”

Once Pompeo arrived, he met with the Royal Saudi Air Force’s Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Shablan, the installation commander of PSAB, to discuss an array of topics related to the partnership between the two nations. While in discussion, he reiterated the U.S. State Department’s commitment to build deeper and long-lasting partnerships with its regional allies to help deter malign actors from causing instability in the region.

“You can see the work that is being done right now by our young men and women in uniform to enable the peace keeping deterrence and work with our partners to deliver us to a place where I, as the Secretary of State, can get the diplomatic outcomes that the president is seeking,” said Pompeo. 

Walker echoed the sentiments.

“We do not seek war,” said Walker. “The increase of U.S. forces is not a build-up for conflict, but a defensive build-up that also holds deterrent value. Ultimately, our actions support diplomatic engagement to develop the solutions needed to fortify stability in the region.”

Following Pompeo’s meeting, Walker escorted the secretary and his team on an orientation tour. During the tour, he visited several Soldiers and Airmen to hear about their experiences and answer any questions they may have.

“It’s not every day that you get to engage with the most senior diplomat in the U.S.,” said Tech Sgt. Jessica Cunningham. “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s an experience I will never forget and underscores the importance of the mission we are accomplishing here at PSAB.”

Pompeo wrapped up the visit by seeing first-hand the crew and operators of the Patriot Missile sites and the F-15E Strike Eagles, assigned to PSAB.

“What our military members do here is important,” said Pompeo. “Their sacrifice makes a difference and their determination doesn’t go unnoticed.” 

Prior to visiting PSAB, Pompeo spent time in KSA’s capital city of Riyadh to discuss regional issues and emphasize the U.S. commitment to its partners in the region. The visit is part of an eight-day diplomatic mission to several countries in Africa and the Arabian Gulf region including Senegal, Angola, Ethiopia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia before concluding the trip in Oman.