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Carter: Utah Base Will Continue to Be Key to National Defense

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter today assured military and civilian employees at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base that despite the changing posture of the military, they will continue to play a significant role in the nation’s security.

Carter traveled to Hill to remind those working for Utah’s largest single site employer that the base is set host the military’s newest warplane, the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, and that despite the end of more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, “Hill has a very bright future.”

“You will host the F-35, which is the linchpin of our tactical future for all three services that will fly them,” he said, “and Hill is going to have a big part in that future.”

Nearly 3000 civilian employees at Hill were furloughed last month, along with hundreds of thousands of other federal workers when the government was partially shut down because of a budget impasse. Carter acknowledged the sacrifices employees have made and thanked them for enduring the uncertainly, furloughs and pay freezes associated with what he called the “mayhem” in Washington and the ongoing budget sequester, which threatens to cut tens of billions of additional dollars from Pentagon spending next year.

“Sequester, furloughs -- it’s disgraceful, it’s inexcusable, it’s embarrassing,” he said. “It shames us in front of others around the world that we can’t manage our own internal affairs better.”

But he praised Hill as being “a leader in simply getting better buying power for the warfighter and the taxpayer.”

Carter has announced plans to step down as deputy defense secretary next month.

(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @simeoneafps)

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