Carter Urges Charleston Troops to Consider Future
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., Jun. 18, 2012 Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter visited service members in the coastal low country of South Carolina today, urging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who serve the nation here to think about the future.
Against the backdrop of a hulking C-17 Globemaster III transport jet, one of 54 on the base, Carter urged the service members to look ahead.
“It’s important to all of us, and we all need to think about, … what’s next for us,” he said. “What’s the next challenge? What challenges in the security field are going to define our future?”
After 10 years of hard work, U.S. troops have done “incredibly well” at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the deputy secretary said, crediting the efforts of many, including the service members here.
“No other military could do anything like what we’ve done, Carter said. “But you can see that era is coming to an end.”
He mentioned new challenges that will arise as the U.S. armed forces shift thjeir focus toward the Asia-Pacific region, as well as challenges such as cyber defense that barely existed a decade ago.
“The skills and people represented here and in this community that’s it’s been our privilege to visit with are going to be part of that future,” Carter said, “because you have the skills that are going to be needed, you have the heart, and you have the reputation and the record of performance that we’re going to be counting on in the next phase.”
The joint base, under the jurisdiction of the 628th Air Base Wing of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, formally combined Charleston Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Charleston in October 2010. Today, the support activity here has more than 40 tenant commands and is a training center for the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, the Nuclear Power Training Unit, the Propulsion Facility and the Border Patrol satellite academy.
Others that make up the joint base include the Mobile Mine Assembly Unit, explosive ordnance detachments, the Marine Corps Reserve Center, and an engineering complex with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, called SPAWAR.
“There are many things you have done that are a signature of Charleston,” Carter said, including the integration and shipping out to the war zone of life-saving mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, called MRAPs.
In May 2011, a SPAWAR-Atlantic integration team here won an award for its collaboration with MRAP manufacturers, other military units, industry partners and the community as they integrated more than 16,000 MRAPs and 8,000 MRAP all-terrain vehicles with communication, computers, command and control, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
“You can go, as I frequently do, to hospitals in Washington where wounded warriors come back, and I can’t tell you the number of them who have said, ‘I’m here, not in [the military morgue at] Dover, … because of the MRAP,’” Carter said.
“And the MRAP was there when they needed it because the integration was done over at SPAWAR,” he added. “It was brought over here, and you all flew it out so it was there on time. That’s history in the making. It’s making our country secure and saving the lives of Americans at the same time. You all did that, and we are truly grateful.”
That’s just one sign of Charleston and the Charleston community contributing to the U.S. war effort, Carter said.
During his visit to the joint base, Carter and his delegation had briefings on space and naval warfare systems and Army logistics, and took time to thank military members and Defense Department civilians and their families for their service and sacrifice.
Carter brought thanks to the soldiers, sailors and airmen from Washington, he said, and he also sent thanks along to the service members’ families.
“Whether it’s a spouse and children or a mom, dad, or just a friend -- whoever you’re close to, whoever you call family -- tell them that you were thanked today and then turn around and thank them, because they support you, and it’s their support that makes it possible for you to support this great country,” he said.