LAS VEGAS — Vice President Mike Pence offered prayers and a pep talk Thursday to military service members during a visit to an Air Force technology incubator in Las Vegas and a brief speech at nearby Nellis Air Force Base.
In comments from a podium on an outdoor stage set between F-35A Lightning and F-22 Raptor fighter jets outside a hangar home to the Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, Pence told more than 1,000 camouflage-clad troops that President Donald Trump "has your back."
Pence drew applause when he said that under Trump, the era of armed forces budget cuts is over.
Nellis is a top Air Force training base and fighter pilot proving ground. Pence noted the Air Force role in fights against what he twice called "radical Islamic terrorism." He cited Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, where he declared the Islamic State "on the run."
"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," the vice president declared. "All options are on the table."
He told the troops that America, "now more than ever," needs their excellence, expertise and dedication.
"You are the instrument of American power," Pence said. "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 it."
"We pray for you, for your families and your mission," he said.
Pence, traveling with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, earlier visited a newly opened storefront military technology development program near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Called AFWERX, it is a space in an office park near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, designed as a place for students, faculty, small business owners, entrepreneurs and military service members to share ideas and technological developments.
Officials say the goal is to cut costs while creating a conduit between industry, academia and the Air Force to speed development and testing of software and materials prototypes.
Pence also offered words of support for two Nevada Republicans running for office this year: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, who is expected to face a tough re-election campaign, and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor.