Carter Gives Thanks to U.S. Troops in Kuwait
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
AL JABER AIR BASE, Kuwait, Oct. 17, 2012 Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter thanked U.S. troops for their service here today and noted that they are not only serving their country, but they are doing a service to the whole world.
The Pentagon's second in command spoke to nearly 100 troops of Marine Aircraft Group 40, expressing his gratitude for the sacrifices they are making.
“The first thing I want to say is 'thank you' for doing this,” Carter said. “I know it was an abrupt and complex job to put this unit together and to come over here.”
“I want you to go home … tonight and call your spouse, your kids, or mom or dad, or whoever is close to you,” he said. “Tell them that today, from the top of the [Defense] Department, [Defense] Secretary [Leon E.] Panetta and everybody, you were thanked for what you do.”
The deputy defense secretary noted he received a briefing on what the troops jobs are while serving in Kuwait, but “actually, I know it very well.”
“The reason I know it very well, and everybody in Washington knows it very well … is because of the importance of what you do,” Carter said.
“Why you're here? What's the importance of it?” he asked. “You know it – I think we all know it. A lot of Americans probably still think, when they think of this [area of responsibility], of Iraq. We know that's over.”
Carter said people also think of Afghanistan, and “know that's still going, but they don't know everything else that goes on here.”
“They don't know about the need that we'll have for forces in this region long after even Afghanistan has tapered off,” he said. “We have a need for an enduring presence in this region.”
The deputy defense secretary pointed to the Arab Spring as “a reality of instability in this region.”
“You see it in the Arab Spring, and its consequences which are still unfolding,” Carter added.
We have a continuing need to ensure up Iraq is a stable country, he said, and to ensure it's playing a positive role in this region.
“We paid a big price in blood and treasure to get that outcome, and we need to consolidate it now,” Carter said. “So for all of these reasons, you're needed here and our presence is needed here. So you're doing something that's extremely important to the security of the great nation that we all serve.”
Carter lauded the troops for their service noting they aren't just serving the U.S., but also those countries that depend on the U.S. Military “for their security.”
“It's still true that so much of the world depends upon us for their security,” he said. “All over the world, but in this region too.”
“We are beginning a new strategic era – you all know that,” the secretary said. “We are looking ahead, looking forward to lots of other parts of the world like the Asia-Pacific that we need to pay attention to.”
Carter said while there are “lots of new threats like cyber” that demand attention, peace and stability in the Middle East remains at the very top of that list of issues.
“You all are delivering that, and we are very grateful to you,” he said. “So, once again, go home tonight, make the phone call and let your loved ones know how much your country appreciates what you're doing here. Many, many thanks.”
After the speech, Carter also stated his appreciation to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos for their leadership as well, according to Carter’s spokesperson, James Swartout.