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Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter at Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter
May 11, 2013

            DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON B. CARTER:  Well first of all, we thank your fantastic leadership here.  All three components, General Ferrell first of all for JTF-HOA [Joint Task Force-Horn Of Africa] but you have three elements here and that's the task force and then our Navy folks who hold down the fort here and make this place work. 

            This is the main thing I wanted to say to you, is just thank you.  We appreciate everyday what you do here, you're incredibly important and we don't take it for granted.  And I want you, to each and every one of you, when you go back tonight to wherever you're put up and you -- you have an opportunity to talk to whoever's close to you, whether it's a spouse or kids or mom and dad or whoever's close to you, and tell them that you were thanked today for what you're doing here. 

            It's incredibly important for our country.  It's incredibly important to the world because of a wonderful thing -- a wonderful thing that certainly in our great country, it's important that you do that because of who we are and who we represent you're certainly entitled to that. 

            We are in the department, are turning a great strategic corner at this time from the era of Iraq and Afghanistan that's so driven us for ten years of necessity and still does in Afghanistan to the problems and opportunities that are going to define our future. 

            After 9/11, we had to pay attention to those two conflicts.  I certainly spent a lot of my time first as undersecretary and deputy secretary of defense on Iraq and Afghanistan.  But that era's coming to an end.  The war in Iraq is over; the war in Afghanistan is for sure -- for sure not, in fact, that's where I'm heading tonight.  But you can see the wind down ahead of it. 

            And the other thing that defined us for the decade after 9/11 was, of course, getting our act together in counterterrorism and we -- we discovered on 9/11 that we weren't anywhere near where we needed to be in counterterrorism and we'd gotten one heck of a lot better since then.  We can't let up.  We can never let up because terrorism will be part of human life as long as there's civilization.  There will always be the uncivilized, they'll always be the problem of the many few against the many, whether they're crazy or whether their new to some ideology, that problem will always be with us so as long as there are those of us who are charged with providing security are here, counterterrorism will need to be part of what we do.  But, we have gotten a lot better at it. 

            So the era of building that capability also coming up from the very low level for where we were on 9/11.  You've accomplished that as well.  So we've done great things over the last ten years and at the same time, we've now recognized the turning point and we need to look to the challenges and opportunities that will define our future. 

            One of them is right here -- one of them and it's -- it's not just challenged with great opportunity in this country -- great opportunity in this country to appreciate that you have to look ahead -- look decades ahead, the best we need to do.  And so in addition to fighting extremism here and protecting maritime security and all the important things that we do here on a day to day basis -- that you do here on a day to day basis, you're also planting seeds for that long term influence that the United States is going to need here in this part of the world. 

            So you are central to our strategy in the future and I want you to know that we know that, we understand that and appreciate that. 

            We also have a budget challenge at the moment which is kind of an aside and so, you know, we're asking people to look around and see where they can save money and so forth as we need for people to do that but don't take that at all as a sign that what you do isn't important or appreciated, we're asking everybody in our entire department to shoulder a share of the burden and we're no different in the Pentagon for this purpose. 

            You have here three elements of working together and I -- I think it's very important that the three parts of this installation connect and continue to work together.  I know you do that very well.  We need that connectivity here and we know that you're a hub with lots of spokes out there on the continent and in the region.  You are the hub so we count on you to hold everything together and do that.  

            So I want to look each and every one of you in the eye and shake your hand and personally thank you, but that's the main reason I'm here, I’ve learned a lot when I've been here.  So I actually know a lot about from afar because we pay attention to what you do every day but there's nothing like seeing it with your own eyes and there's nothing like seeing you with my own eyes and I appreciate the opportunity to do that. 

            Don't forget to make that call or send that e-mail and say that to whoever's sharing the burden with you and it making it possible for you to be here and making it possible for you to be who you are, tell them that from the leadership of the department, thank you and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you individually.