This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

JOHNSON COUNTY, Mo. — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper touched down Wednesday at Whiteman Air Force Base, home to the B-2 Stealth Bomber. 

He met with troops, toured the base and spoke with FOX4 about COVID-19 and diversity. But he said his trip was about more than looking at the fleet. Esper came to connect with the base’s air men and women.

“The people, Missouri should be very proud of this,” Esper said. “I’ve been very impressed with all of the briefings I’ve received today, and the discussions about the capabilities that this force brings and how well they’re doing holding up in a COVID environment, implementing the guidance we’ve been putting out since January.”

Esper said Whiteman AFB is unique in how well these active Air Force members have been working with reserves during the pandemic. He said they have been working together to get medicine to those who need it.

“I’ve never seen integration like this,” Esper said. “It’s hand-in-glove relationship, seamless, and I’m very impressed by what I saw today. I gotta say the Air Force overall does this very well. So very impressed by what I saw.”

Esper concluded his trip with a discussion about diversity within the Air Force.

“The military is very diverse. That’s a strength of ours to be diverse,” Esper said. “At the end of day, it’s all about improving cohesion, morale and readiness. And the more that we can we can have a diverse, inclusive force that everybody believes offers equal opportunity, the stronger we will be in defense of the American people.”

He said he hopes to work toward removing visible pronouns and anything that may trigger unconscious bias.