WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2015 —
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke about transitions with Marines and sailors at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California, yesterday.
Hagel, who himself transitions upon confirmation of his successor, Dr. Ashton B. Carter, spoke about transition in Afghanistan, transition to the Asia-Pacific region and the dynamic nature of the world that requires a U.S. military that can capably perform during peace or war.
The United States is transitioning around the world, the secretary said. In Afghanistan -- where many of the Marines and sailors served -- the United States is working with Afghans as they assume control of their country. And, U.S. Marines are transitioning back to their maritime roots..
Building Capabilities, Capacities in Asia-Pacific
All service members will participate in the U.S. military’s transition to the Asia-Pacific, Hagel said. A cornerstone of that shift will be to build capabilities and capacities of allies in the region, he said. This will become “more and more a critical component of our own strategic interests as we continue to help our allies build their capabilities,” the secretary said.
The United States will support those countries, “but we can't take on all of the challenges by ourselves,” Hagel said. “They must do it as well.”
The world is a dynamic, ever-changing place, and the American military must be ready, the secretary said. A year ago, he said, no one would have forecast the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Ebola crisis in West Africa or the Russian actions in Ukraine.
Other actions need to be countered as well, the secretary said. Cyberspace remains vulnerable, Hagel said. The cyberattack on Sony Pictures, and the cyberattack on U.S. Central Command public sites are two of the more recent examples of the vulnerability, he said.
The Defense Department’s people are key to success, Hagel said. The secretary urged Marines and sailors in the audience to take care of each other.
“We don’t take care of each other just on the battlefield,” Hagel said. “We’ve got to take care of each other in dorms, in bars, on bases, at parties. You take care of each other, you trust each other, and you have to rely on each other, again, not just in war, but this is a family, and we let each other down if we don’t do that.”
The secretary thanked the service members for what they do for the United States every day. He also thanked the families.
“Again, I want to thank you for what you do for this country, what you’ve done for our country, what you will do for this country,” Hagel said. “It’s been a privilege to be your secretary of defense.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)