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Remarks by Deputy Secretary Carter at a Base in Southwest Asia

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter
October 17, 2012

            MARINE COLONEL WILLIAM DUNN:  Afternoon, Marines. 

            I just want to take a quick second to introduce our guest speaker for today and our guest of honor for today, the Honorable Dr. Ashton B. Carter, deputy secretary of defense.  

            Hooah.  Let's give him a MAG-40 welcome. Hooah! 

            AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  Hooah! 

            DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON B. CARTER:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.  Good morning everyone. 

            I just got a briefing on what you do out here, but actually I know it very well. The reason I know it very well and everybody in Washington knows it very well -- Secretary Panetta, myself, the chairman, the vice and so forth -- is the -- because of the importance of what you do. 

            And I want to say a couple words about how important what you do here -- what you're doing here is.  But the first thing I want to say is thank you for doing this.  I know that it was an abrupt and complex job to put this unit together and to come over here. 

            But I want you to go home, back tonight to where you're living, and call your spouse or kids or mom or dad or whoever's close to you and tell them that today, from the top of the department, from Secretary Panetta and everybody, you were thanked for what you do -- for what you're doing. 

            Why are you here?  What's the importance of it?  You know it.  I think we all know it.  

            A lot of people, Americans, probably still think, when they think of this AOR, of Iraq -- they know that's over -- Afghanistan -- and they know that's still going, but they don't know everything else that goes on here, and they don't know about the need that we'll have for forces in this region long after even Afghanistan has tapered off. 

            We have a need for an enduring presence in this region.  There's a potential for aggression.  There's a -- not even a potential, a reality, of instability in this region.  You see it in the Arab spring and its consequences, which are still unfolding. 

            We have a continuing need to ensure up to the north of here that we have in Iraq a stable country that's playing a positive and not a negative role in this region.  We paid a big price in blood and treasure to get that outcome and we need to consolidate it now. 

            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.  

            And you know when you serve the United States of America, you're not just serving the United States of America, you're serving the rest of the world, because it's still true that so much of the world depends upon us for their security, all over the world, but in this region too. 

            We are beginning a new strategic era.  You all know that.  We are looking ahead and looking forward, and there are lots of other parts of the world, like the Asia Pacific, that we need to pay attention to.  There are lots of new threats, like cyber, we need to pay attention to.  But way up in that very top list of issues like that is peace and stability in this region.  You all are delivering that and we are very grateful to you. 

            So, once again, go home tonight, make a phone call, and let your loved ones know how much your country appreciates what you're doing here.  

            Many, many thanks. 

            Forgot to say, by the way, Colonel Dunn's doing a great job, and as we -- everybody has admired how he has put this unit together, gotten it over here on time, and flying and performing.  So congratulations to you. 

            COL. DUNN:  Can I get the command to fall out?  Fall out.  

            AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  Hooah!