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Remarks by Deputy Secretary Carter at the Von der Heyden Fellows Program Endowment Fund Lecture Series at Duke University, Durham, N.C.

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter
November 29, 2012

            DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON B. CARTER: Peter thank you, thanks for the welcome, thanks for your friendship, thank you for what you do, for all of us, through your thinking and writing and teaching, and that goes for all of your colleagues here. It’s a terrific institution. It’s great and an honor to be here. I’ve wanted to come here for quite a while to engage in a conversation with all of you about our pressing national security challenges and how we at the Department of Defense work to meet them. 

            Peter was as he has said, one of my first doctoral students and tonight he gets to ask the first question (Laughter). Which I am hoping isn’t pay back (Laughter) for the questions I asked him., Just remember Peter -- we were reluctant and things like that can be rescinded (Laughter). To the students here in the audience who are at all stages in your education, particularly for those that are undergraduates, and the graduate students as opposed to the professional students – I hope that the consequence of you studying here under Peter and his colleagues, these courses, yields that a career in public service in some form is the right thing for you.   

            You know we don’t pay as well as some other jobs and the buildings aren't as fancy, and all that.  But we do have one thing that no one else has, and that's mission.  And it's a great feeling to get up in the morning, and to be -- to do something, and be part of something that's bigger than yourself, and in -- I say in our department, and in the U.S. national security establishment, that leaves something even bigger than the great country you represent, because we are so essential still to the security of so much of the world. 

            And for those from other countries who are joining their own national security establishment, or the international security establishment, there is such a thing and that's a good thing, thank you too.  Because it -- you know it takes the whole world working together to create the climate in which people don't have to worry about what we're doing, and which they can take us for granted.  And I know sometimes we get frustrated by that.  

            We say, why don't we get more credit?  Why don't we get more attention?  Why don't -- why don't we get more money?  Why don't we get more -- and so there's really -- and sometimes that annoys me. 

            But if I sit back and think about it, you know that's really the way it ought to be.  People ought to be able to get up in the morning, and go to work, raise their families, have their futures, think about their future, free from fear for their security, for their basic security.  And a lot of the world can't wake up that way.  And we always want to be able to wake up that way.  We'd like everybody to wake up that way.  So -- so, you know in a way the right end state is to be taken for granted, so that's my consolation when I'm feeling taken for granted, which we sometimes are. 

            I spent a great -- it's great to be here in -- in North Carolina.  I was of course down in Fort Bragg, from which many of the military fellows at least here originate.  I know Duke has a new relationship with Fort Bragg.  I think your basketball team was down there, and took on the special forces, which is your defense against our defense.  And I don't know how it went, but I appreciate that you -- you -- you went down there.  

            I was down today with our -- in addition to our joint special operations people, and Army special operations people, the Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division down there.  

            And, you know it's great for me to get out, to not only places like this so I hear what people are thinking, people like Peter and his colleagues, but also I -- it's a great day for me to get out of the Pentagon and be with our people.  And it -- it's -- it's helpful to me especially because I'm always mindful of something that Bob Gates said to me when Secretary of Defense Gates first offered me the job I had before this one, which was Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, which apart from, as my children say having the longest and most obscure title of any job, is the buying and management job kind of and the -- among the undersecretaries of defense. 

            And Gates said to me, "Ash", he said "the troops are at war, and the Pentagon isn't, especially your part.  And I want you to change that.” That was 2009.  And so the most important thing that I thought I needed to do was not the Joint Strike Fighter and ship building, and all that kind of stuff, but support to our troops in – in then Iraq still, but Afghanistan as well.  And so -- but we worked hard on things like unmanned surveillance systems that have been so incredibly important in Afghanistan, including novel ones like balloons rather than airplanes. 

            Because it's a lot easier to run up -- a balloon up on a tether for a long time and have it look around, than it is to run an airplane around all the time.  We found ourselves subject to improvised explosive devices, IED's, and so we developed the MRAP vehicle, and fielded them in record time.  It was summer of 2009 when I signed the first procurement order for the MRAP all-terrain vehicle, which was the version we needed in Afghanistan, because it had independent suspension as well as being ably armed -- armored.  So 2009 and by, Geesh I guess December, we were producing really record time -- we were producing MATV's in two sites in the United States.   

            They were produced, they were taken to Charleston where the radios and Blue Force Tracker and all that kind of stuff, where all the stuffing was put in.  And then flown to Afghanistan where they have saved many, many, many lives.  I mean it could go on and on.  I mean it's things that may not sound important to you, but are really important, like ballistic underwear, which we developed and fielded several different variants, men and women and so forth, and that's a very important thing to have gotten right.

            So, you know for me every morning it's still the first thing on my mind.  It will be as long as anybody is in Afghanistan, that we -- we here in the United States, we in Washington, we in the Pentagon, are first and foremost supporting our troops until every single one of them is returned home safely.  

What I wanted to talk about tonight, I guess I -- I thought I'd pick up on where Marty Dempsey -- Chairman Dempsey was here, I think he -- you hosted earlier this year, and discuss as he did, some of the main tenants of the new strategy that was just emerging when he was here, but that the president subsequently announced. 

            And to understand what we're trying to do with the new strategy, and how we're trying to implement it at the Pentagon, you need to situate yourself, or we try to situate ourselves in time, and in the place we find ourselves in strategic history.  And that is -- is -- is this; we in the Department of Defense at this particular moment in American history are at a moment of great strategic consequence, and great strategic transition.  Because we're at the confluence of two great currents, or two great forces. 

            The first, of course is that after almost 12 years of unrelenting and uninterrupted war of a particular kind, counterinsurgency, broadly defined, in two particular places; Iraq and Afghanistan, that era is coming to an end.  The war in Iraq is over, and the war in Afghanistan as I have said, certainly and for sure is not.  

            But, we have a strategy, and a plan, and a schedule that I think has a good probability of succeeding, and which will cause us to draw down our forces in Afghanistan.  And then over the next couple of years and then creed and then a so-called enduring presence that will continue to assist along with our coalition partners, the Afghan security forces in maintaining stability in Afghanistan, and in meeting our principal requirements, which is to make sure that that country is no -- not again ever a source of danger to the United States. 

            So we're transitioning security responsibility to Afghan lead.  You -- you see that happening right now.  I was just there a few weeks ago.  All that thanks to the superb efforts of our men and women, and also coalition forces, and also the Afghan forces, all of whom are performing superbly, and I should say at great sacrifice and for the Afghan forces, at increasing sacrifice.  And blessedly for our own forces, fewer, and fewer causalities and you'll -- you'll -- you'll see that again. 

            I was remarking today  to my friends that this is the first time for me in four years that there had been nobody returned to -- to Dover over the Thanksgiving holidays.  First time in four years.  And it goes back longer, it's just four -- four Thanksgivings for me.  

            But while we've been doing this, while we've been fighting insurgency in these two particular places for these years, and also terrorism worldwide during that time, which will not stop, during all that time the world hasn't stood still.  Our friends and enemies haven't stood still.  Technology has not stood still.  And so the time has come for us in the U.S. and the Defense Department to look up out of the foxhole we've been in, look around, look ahead at the security challenges that will define our future, the future after the era of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

            Now we would need to make this strategic transition no matter what.  But we're also subject to a second great current, and that is the need to keep the United States' fiscal house in order, as outlined in the Budget Control Act, which passed Congress last year.  And which required our department to remove $487 billion from our plans over the 10 years -- over 10 years.  And that we've done.  By the way I should say that $487 billion is on top of $300 billion, for those who have been around a while, that we – that Secretary Gates cut earlier, and we've done that. 

            And we -- and we've tried to do it in the best way, which is strategically.  Congress hasn't approved, unfortunately, all of the changes that we have recommended and I hope they do eventually, but they have not.  And we also have overhanging us the issue of overseas contingency operations, OCO, or supplemental funding, which we'll have to transition to some other system in the future.  But at any rate, we have made that transition, budgetarily to the – we met the $487 billion cuts in a strategic way.  And that -- that change in strategic era, and change in our budgetary environment together, we have accommodated. 

            I'd like -- I thought I'd describe to you some of the ways in which we did that.  You know, but first I can't let an evening go by without railing about what could happen, especially sequestration, if a follow on to the Budget Control Act isn't passed soon by both houses of Congress that the president can sign.  Secretary Panetta and I have been saying for months that sequestration is disastrous for national defense.  I feel like a broken record, but it really is. It would be chaotic, wasteful and damaging, not just to defense, but to every function of government in a gratuitous and arbitrary way. 

            It's not just the amount of dollars, it's the idiotic way that we are required to take those cuts.  And of course it's idiotic because the intent of sequester was to use the threat of cuts implemented inflexibly, and really mindlessly to force Congress to enact a compromise deficit reduction plan.  That was its intent.  It was never intended to be implemented.  It was designed to be too horrible to ever be implemented.  And so if it comes to pass, it will inevitably lead to the hollowing of our force, and everything we've tried to accomplish.  Impact our investments, our contracts, lives of our service members, welfare of our service members, our other employees, their families, and not just us, but all the agencies of -- of -- of government. 

            And it -- by its nature, it makes it impossible to devise a plan that substantially mitigates its harmful effects. So, that's sequester.  And if it happens, we will of course implement, or execute it. And we'll have to work with everybody involved in -- in industry, the industry that supports us to mitigate it -- its effects. Its effects don't -- won't occur all of the sudden on January 3rd, but they will be profound and devastating to us.  And it's a real shame.  It's that -- to manage -- we can manage our security and our budget situation, but it's very difficult in an -- in an environment of instability and uncertainty. It just makes it very hard for those who were supposed to run the enterprise to do it in a responsible way. 

            But we're still 33 days away from this, and so I'm still hopeful that in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats will exercise the necessary leadership to make sure that sequestration isn't triggered, and that they put the national interest above everything else.  If sequestration is -- is -- is averted responsibly as, by the way, many in Congress wish, then as I said, under the Budget Control Act, our base budget -- our base defense budget will not in fact go down, but it will not continue to rise in the manner that we had planned.  And the difference between our expectation, and that reality is the $487 billion over 10 years to which I -- I referred. 

            So that's the budget situation.  And so these two forces, one profound one of -- of -- of strategic history and the other of fiscal necessity came together.  And in that environment, we needed to put together a defense strategy for the United States.  And that's what we did.  And I -- for -- for me it was really -- it was an -- you know I've been doing this for a while, it was an unprecedented process in the sense of the depth of the involvement of the president, which was I thought, impressive in the amount of time and -- that he was willing to spend with the defense leadership, basically in a conversation about the trajectory of national defense and what to do as we came to this transition point. 

            And the result of that was to get that head out of the foxhole, and look forward, and try to look forward quite a few years in fact, we tried to 2020.  And I know that Marty Dempsey talked about the joint force in 2020, what is that going to look like?  That was sort of our objective.  That's what we set out to build towards.  And let me give you a few of the ingredients of it.  One is that obviously the force has got to be leaner, but agile, ready, technologically advanced.  In other words, we wanted to take a number of steps to make the -- the most effective use of our force in the era after Iraq and Afghanistan, so what do I mean by that? 

            I mean painting -- creating a new post-Iraq and Afghanistan concept of readiness for each of our services.  Not an easy thing to -- to do.  What does it mean to be ready? Ready for what?  We wanted to preserve a great strength we have built up over the last decade, which is the tremendous talent we have in the all-volunteer force.  We both wanted to retain it, and we wanted to respect it.  In other words, no sudden changes in benefits and that sort of thing as the war came to -- to an end.  To be respectful of the human side of our force.           

            We wanted to shift our -- the great, tremendous weight and intellectual effort that this department is capable of, that focused on COIN, that focused on IEDs and so forth, to the new problems of the future, make that intellectual transition.  To make a more effective use of the Reserve component, the Reserve and Guard, which also we have depended upon heavily over the last 10 years, and is an asset.  And we need to figure out how to deploy it to the best effect going forward.  So there were a number of steps that we took that were kind of basic in order to make sure that we made most effective use of the force that we had. 

            Now to the force that we want.  First thing, the president -- President Obama, one of the things he was very insistent on the whole way is, he said just -- "You're in a budget stringency, make sure that you protect, and go out of your way to protect the newest things, because they have the shallowest roots.  And they're the easiest thing to pull out bureaucratically, and I don't want you to do that." So he made sure that we didn't eat our seed corn in a budget reduction.  And so that meant continuing to invest, and in fact we are growing the special operations forces, actually growing them. 

            We are increasing our funding for cyber, even in this environment.  Same for electronic warfare, and electronic protection, very important field.  New capabilities to counter weapons of mass destruction, space.  All of these areas that are so important for the future.  Our science and technology base, and of course new capabilities, novel capabilities that we haven't revealed yet.  All of those things, keep those investments going despite the cut.  Very important principle.  

            A third thing -- ingredient of the -- the -- the strategy is our continued focus on the Middle East, which will be -- remain an enduring commitment of the United States, but also and very importantly our so-called rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, a region where so much of our future security, and economic interests lie.  

And here our goal is pretty simple.  We want to keep on keeping on with what that region has enjoyed now for 70 years, which is an environment of -- of peace, and stability, in which the countries of the region, all of them, can continue to -- to enjoy economic prosperity.  And if you think about it, over this -- the -- the -- the Asia-Pacific region was not an era that ever had any NATO.  It never had any structure to heal the wounds of World War II, and yet it has had peace and stability for 70 years. 

            And I maintain, I think it's -- it's clearly true that a critical ingredient in that peace and stability which has led to prosperity, has been the continued strong American military presence in that region.  That has played a pivotal role.  And in that environment created by our military presence, first Japan rose and prospered, then Korea -- South Korea rose and prospered, then Southeast Asia rose and prospered, and today you see, yes China, and in a different way, India rise and prosper.  And that's fine.  But that environment is not a birthright, it's something that results in important measure from the continued pivotal presence of the U.S. military in that region.  

            And in one sentence, the rebalance says, we're going to keep doing that.  That's our objective.  It's not mostly a military strategy.  It's a whole national strategy.  We're all obviously economically engaged there.  It begins with our longstanding principles.  Principles of self-governance, freedom, free and open access to commerce, a just international order, rule of law, and open access to all domains including the seas.  Peaceful resolution of disputes, I mean all of those things that matter so much, and they're not purely military. 

            But, we do have a big role in the Department of Defense and it figures in a large way in our strategy.  It affects force structure and force posture.  Force structure is what we have, and posture is where we put it.  I'll say more about that in a moment, but it is broader than that.  It goes to operational concepts, tactics, techniques and procedures, operations, plans.  And perhaps above all our partnerships in the region, which are incredibly strong and many of them longstanding, and many of them are building now.  So we have, in Japan and in the Republic of Korea, and in Thailand, and in Australia, longstanding alliances that we're doing a lot to strengthen and invigorate. 

            And new security partners like India, Philippines, ASEAN  collective, and China where we're -- we're enhancing our military-to-military relationship with China.  It's an important objective for us, and we recently invited China to join for the first time the big exercise that we run out of Honolulu, RIMPAC exercise.  So, that is -- so our rebalance is about many things, it's not just about defense.  Within defense, it is importantly, and that's what I would say -- I want to detail a little bit about how we invest in force structure, and posture. 

            And before I even get started I -- the question people ask is, oh well Ash, I actually hear you talk about rebalancing, but can you really do it with the budget cuts you just described?  Can you really do it?  And the answer to that is, yes.  And there are basically two reasons for that.  The reasons that we can enhance our posture in the Asia-Pacific region, the first -- the first reason for that is that the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan frees up so much capacity, which can be redeployed to that region.  That's the first reason. 

            And the other reason is that within the still substantial resources that we have, we are giving real priority to the kinds of capabilities that are relevant for the Asia-Pacific theater.  So for those two reasons, we can do it.  And are going to do it.  And I say to people who -- one asked me that question, you know we're going to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, watch.  You watch.  So what should they be watching for?  

             I'll give you a few of the indicators.  Earlier this year, a very simple one, the secretary announced that in a very significant historical shift, we were moving more of our Navy to the Pacific Ocean, than to the Atlantic Ocean, so that in a few years, in fact it will be 60/40 and it will probably go further. 

            And that's historically very different.  We're allocating our newest aircraft to the region -- newest tactical aircraft.  So for example, the F-22 squadron now based at Kadena, we’ll deploy our first overseas F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadron to Japan, 2015.  We also are expanding the Air Force -- our rotational bomber presence at Anderson Air Force base in Guam.  Developing with the Navy, and Guam -- the Navy and the Air Force, their -- their facilities on Guam; Anderson up in the north, the Apra Harbor Naval Facility in the southwest, and then also at some point bringing some of the Marines from Okinawa to -- to Guam.  But for now the main event is the Air Force and Navy moves, very important strategically. 

            The Marines, no change in Marine Corps presence west of the international dateline, despite the fact that the Marine Corps is going to be reducing in size at the end of the Iraq/Afghanistan war.  No change to Marine Corps west of the international dateline.  And in fact, they -- they'll be seeing more of the Marines in the Pacific, and the Army too.  Why?  Because they're not in Afghanistan.  The Army itself plans to align 70,000 troops to the Asia Pacific region as part of its new general regional alignment, which heavily weighs the Asia-Pacific region. 

            So in terms of our posture and where we're putting things, we're putting the weight of our effort there and the newest things there.  And we also have key investments that are relevant to that region.  New things that we have protected despite this budget environment.  The Virginia Class submarine, which maintains the really unrivaled undersea dominance of the United States.  And the new Virginia Payload Module on the Virginia, which will -- fundamentally allows us to fire cruise missiles from – unwarned – from waters anywhere in the world.  Our -- also speaking of the Navy, our P-8s, which replaces the P-3s for maritime surveillance, a very good program. And we're proceeding with the P-8. 

            A lot of new ISR sensors relevant to that region. We deployed the Global Hawk to Guam about two years ago or so. The Navy has a version of Global Hawk called BAMS, which will also be deployed in the Asia-Pacific region.  Our K-46 tanker, the new tanker that I spent so much effort years back when I was undersecretary to get going, which is -- which is working out very well.  Boeing's doing a very good job on the tanker.  We have protected the funding for the tanker.  That's a huge program.  And a lot of new ISR platforms, some of which I can mention, some of which I can't. 

            A lot of new infrastructure and training infrastructure in the -- in the Asia-Pacific region.  And one I'll mention in particular is the test ranges in the -- of the Northern Marianas Islands chain, north of -- of Guam.  The islands we used in World War II to leapfrog through, to Saipan and so forth.  Very good training areas there.  In Korea, on the Korean peninsula, our longstanding presence.  We're doing a lot to modernize there.  Camp Humphreys in the south, some of the relocation from the old camps up along the DMZ to Camp Humphreys, another big project. 

            And upgrading our capabilities there to include some things that we're bringing over from Afghanistan, like MRAPs to the U.S. Forces Korea.  And then -- so all of these investments are going forward.  They're all relevant to the region, and we have protected them.  And that includes a whole lot of science and technology programs for visionary things, relevant to the Asia-Pacific.  Electronic warfare, any jamming capabilities, a lot of things like that relevant for the -- to the -- to the theater.  So, for all these reasons we can, and will find the military capacity, and also the intellectual resources to support the rebalance in the Asia-Pacific. 

            The secretary and I are very focused on this, on a day-to-day basis.  I mean second only to current crises, and the war.  And it's something where we're not just talking the talk, were walking the walk.  Finally the last tenant of our overall strategy that I wanted to -- to mention, is strengthening our alliances and partnerships around the world.  Not just in the Asia-Pacific, but around the world.  And when I -- I say this, partners are a force multiplier for us.  If -- if we have strong security partners, they'll do things -- they can do things that we don't then have to do.  And they can share the burden of keeping peace and stability around the world. 

            And so we're not only emphasizing our -- our existing alliances in partnerships, but trying as hard as we can to build new ones.  We're trying to be as innovative as we can.  Just like I said earlier, we're trying to be innovative with the force we have, and use it to best effect.  Even though it's not going to be as big as maybe we want, not as much money as we want.  We're going to be more innovative in how we use it.  Similarly we are trying to be more innovative in how we partner with other countries, new concept of a rotational presence like we're going to have with the Littoral Combat Ship -- forward stationing, rather of the Littoral Combat Ship in Singapore. 

            Some of the things we're doing in Rota, rotational presence which really is first to -- to the Marine Air Ground Task Force in Australia.  Then we're doing really rotational, novel, low footprint ways of having presence.  Exercise programs that are meaningful.  We do joint exercises, we do multilateral exercises, trying to gather more and more countries together, bring in countries that have antagonisms between themselves, jointly in an exercise program with us.  Building their capacity, trying to do all of these things to maintain alliances, build new security partnerships in new ways, in ways that we've learned over the last 10 years as we've fought beside our partners in Afghanistan.  

            I can tell you, you can go to command center in Afghanistan now anywhere, at almost any level of classification, and you walk in you run into an American, you run into a Brit, you run into a, you know people from the whole coalition, all working side by side.  That's a -- that is a precious gift from what has otherwise been a miserable experience namely -- namely fighting a war.  It's a precious gift, and we're trying to keep that.  So, that's our strategy and the implementation of our strategy.  

            We hope to win the confidence of the country, and the support of that strategy.  It needs not be said that we feel that we've done our part with respect to deficit reduction in Defense. 

            And the -- the -- but I would say to our citizens, I say to our Congress, and we say to the president, we're trying to make these -- these investment decisions in the most careful way.  We're trying to be the most responsible stewards we can of the money we have, defend the country for the dollars that we -- the country can afford to -- to give us.  And to do that we -- we have only not -- we have not only to make important choices strategically, the ones I've tried to describe, but we also have to make better use of taxpayer dollars.  That's really critical.  That's something that I -- when I was with Secretary Gates, called -- launched an initiative called "Better Buying Power", and -- which was really about using the taxpayer's dollars better. 

            There are two reasons to do that.  One is so that you can deliver the security the country needs without having constantly to get more money.  But the second reason is, that if we're going to get -- if we're going to continue to get -- enjoy the public's trust and get the money that we do need to defend the country, we have to show them that we're using it well, that we're not wasting it, that we're good stewards.  And that's what "Better Buying Power" is about.  It's about establishing affordability requirements for our weapons systems, managing our activities and programs for what they should cost, and not just letting them run over, and paying the bill.  

            Looking on performers of the work favorably who do a good job for us, and rewarding them financially.  Removing obstacles to effective competition, removing some of our own bureaucratic obstacles to effective performance and efficiency by the industry that supports us.  Aggressively managing the $200 billion we spend very year on services.  

            When you think about what we buy, you think about goods, right?  You think about ships, tanks, planes.  We spend $200 billion a year on services.  And I can tell you we're not as good at it as we should be. 

            So in all of those ways, even as we act strategically, we have to act managerially as well, and that's a big focus for me, and for Secretary Panetta.  And we hope with -- by being good strategists, and good -- or sound strategists, and sound managers, we can continue to defend the country, and enjoy the trust of the -- the people it's our responsibility to defend.  So that's what we're trying to do.  And I wanted to describe that to you this evening, and I appreciate the opportunity to be with you here. (Applause.)

            MODERATOR:  We may have to cut this shorter than we had anticipated. 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER:  Do a few questions -- a couple questions, yeah. 

            MODERATOR:  We have time for a couple of questions.  My first one -- and if you could please get in line if you want to ask a question?  

            My question is, when you did the strategy you had to make assumptions about the way the world was going.  Do any of those assumptions now, 18 months -- almost 18 months later, look stronger, or weaker?  Particularly the unraveling of the situation in the Middle East, the heightened friction in Northeast, Southeast Asia?  Do they call into question any of the assumptions on which the strategy rests? 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER:  To me the events, particularly when you're thinking about Arab Spring, and so forth, to me they kind of reinforced our thinking in the sense that we knew we needed to get out of the, as I said, the foxhole we were in and begin to face the issues that will define our future.  And the kinds of things you're seeing in the Middle East now, are the kinds of things that are going to define our -- our future there.  

            So in a sense, they've reinforced what we knew we needed to do anyway.  And the second thing is, that at theme of our thinking, Peter about the future, really was, and this is easy to say, but it's hard to live by, about -- of true uncertainty, and the ability to have a force that is flexible and multipurpose. 

            And that's not just rhetoric.  It means that when you're making decisions about whether you're going to have this unit of force, or that unit of force, or this program, or that program;  if this one's only good for one thing, probably not going to -- we -- we can't afford that.  We have to buy things that are good for a variety of -- of circumstances for the very reason you point out, which is that we don't -- we can't make solid assumptions about where we're headed.  And we can't afford to be behind the eight ball in any circumstance.  And we have a very high bar that we're expected to perform to. 

            So if anything, the last -- the -- the last year has kind of reinforced what we were thinking last year. 

            MODERATOR: I think we have time… 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER: Go ahead sir. 

            QUESTION: First of all, thank you for coming here. My question is mostly about – you spoke a lot I think about Asia, um, I was wondering if there is concern about some of the other regions of the world? For example, This year in Africa, in northern Mali, we’ve seen rebels take the entire country, are we concerned with that – and the destabilization with that. Are there other areas in the world like that? 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER:  ...there absolutely are and I'll take Africa.  It is obviously not a quiet place.  There are al-Qaeda cells springing up in several places that we have to deal with.  There's a broader demand for security in the continent, which is an incredibly important continent.  

            We -- what we're trying to do -- what we need to do, and what we're trying to do is be innovative and meet those security needs in those places with a lighter footprint.  And that just simply means being innovative. And we're actually capable of doing that in Africa. 

            And it's not the right thing in Africa to send over divisions, and you know aircraft carriers and so forth.  That's not really what the -- because you have to match the need.  Another place I'll mention is Europe.  Because Europeans always say, you know how -- I'm not in your strategy.  And my answer to that is very simple, which is, you're not a problem.  

            Europe is a net source of security, not a sink for security efforts.  And so it's a sign of Europe's internal and external success that, you know we're not fielding new capabilities for the defense of Europe.  Thank goodness that isn't necessary. 

            They're our partners.  We're fielding things jointly and working together to go elsewhere.  Yeah? 

            MODERATOR:  We only have time for two more.  Next to you?  Yeah. 

            QUESTION:  So you've spoken a great deal about the implications of the fiscal crisis, which is largely a result of politics.  So in other ways, aside from the fiscal crisis, how do you as part of a bureaucracy and institution, navigate the tension between political interests, when there is a tension, and military interests, and the interests of your own institution? 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER: It's a very -- it's an excellent question and it's a -- a constant challenge.  And it's not a partisan thing.  Because fortunately, you know I think for the most part people understand that -- that national security isn't a partisan thing.  It touches us all, and -- and it is remarkably free from partisan rancor, thank goodness.   Our -- our challenge comes more from the economic consequences of a lot of our decisions, which turn out to be highly local. 

            So if you cancel a program, there's an impacted industrial facility somewhere.  If you move a unit from here to there, there's a -- a base with all of its people, and all of its jobs, and all of its buying and so forth, moving from one place to another.  Those adjustments are hard to make.  We have to be able to make them. That's why I objected to that -- to Congress, why are they denying us $74 billion worth of that $487 billion?  I say I can't have that.  I have to be able to act in the best interest of the national defense of the country, and I can't have, you know local economic interests influence what we're doing.  You know it's a democracy and so forth, so you have to deal with that. 

            But in the end your best defense is a good strategy and explanation so that we can go to the public and say, "Listen, damn it, I know you don't like that.  I don't like it either, but it has to happen.  Because that's the only way we can defend the country."  If we start deciding how we can figure our defense by pork, we're doomed.   

            QUESTION:  I was curious as to your thoughts on foreign military sales, in particular situations like Turkey where they're asking for -- they need Patriot systems and air missile defense systems to guard against Syria?  And how those kinds of situations will be handled? 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER: Well, foreign military sales is again, a good thing for us.  It -- it has to be done subject to appropriate controls on who's getting what, and all that. But in general, assuming these are security partners that we value, this is again a two-fer.  It strengthens their capabilities, if it's an ally, Australia or something.  It strengthens their capabilities so that they can contribute to security in their -- for their country in a way that we do not have to make up.  And it's good for us economically quite honestly.  

            I was the principal weapons buyer for the Department of Defense and if I -- if I'm building F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, it's a good thing for me if Canada is buying some also, because obviously economies of scale, it makes my airplanes cheaper.  So, for both those reasons, but principally for the security reason.  Provided they're -- foreign military service is a good thing, provided they're aligned with your overall security strategy which is -- which we have to do.  We're not allowed to just go sell anything, and our contractors aren't either. 

            We have to have licenses to export things, you know and the -- the approval of the -- the government and Congress by the way, that -- that do -- selling that is truly in the national security interest of the United States and the line of our foreign policy.  That's the only condition under which we do it. But we -- if we do it under those conditions, it's a good thing.  Thank you. 

            MODERATOR:  So, you start off a speech by talking about concerns about whether you're appreciated.  I want to assure you that here at Duke, we appreciate the work that you are doing.  We don't have ballistic underwear to give you as a token of our appreciation -- (Laughter.) -- but we do have an ATS T-shirt, which is almost as good.  

            DEP. SEC. CARTER:  Very good. (Laughter.) 

            MODERATOR:  And we'll -- we trust that you will wear it with -- with pride, and -- and we're grateful for your service. 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER: It's so valuable that I'm sure I'm not allowed to keep it. 

            MODERATOR: Yes, probably. (Laughter.) 

            DEP. SEC. CARTER:  But I appreciate it.  I appreciate your being here today, especially you,  Peter. (Applause.)

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