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Carter Says Farewell After 35 Years of Defense Department Service

Jan. 18, 2017 | BY Cheryl Pellerin , DOD News

Defense Secretary Ash Carter addressed members of the Defense Department in the Pentagon auditorium today to say farewell to the department he’s served and to those he has served alongside in a series of jobs that have grown in responsibility over 35 years.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter gives his farewell address at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
Defense Secretary Ash Carter gives his farewell address at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
Defense Secretary Ash Carter gives his farewell address at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
Farewell Address
Defense Secretary Ash Carter gives his farewell address at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
Photo By: Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
VIRIN: 170118-D-GY869-126

Carter was deputy defense secretary from 2011 to 2013 and took office as the 25th defense secretary in 2015.

From 2009 to 2011, he was undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics with responsibility for DoD’s procurement reform and innovation agenda and completion of key procurements such as the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker.

From 1993 to 1996, he was assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, responsible for strategic affairs, nuclear weapons policy and the Nunn-Lugar program that removed nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

For his government service, Carter has received the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, DoD’s highest award, on five separate occasions. He also has received the Defense Intelligence Medal for contributions to intelligence and the Joint Distinguished Service Medal from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Missions Transformed

At today’s farewell event, Carter said he likes to walk the halls at the Pentagon and while he’s visiting installations across the country and around the world. He walks for the exercise, to get out of the office, and to see how the department and its people are doing, he said.

02:18
VIDEO | 02:18 | Carter Delivers Farewell Remarks

“Over the course of three and a half decades of walks, I’ve seen how this department has changed in many ways,” the secretary told the audience. Missions have transformed, Carter said, from the great-power competition of the Cold War years to its easing in the decade after the Cold War’s end to more than 10 years of counterinsurgency campaigns to today’s return to full-spectrum readiness and capabilities.

He’s also seen how technology has evolved.

“When I started my career in defense, … most technology of consequence originated in America, and much of that was sponsored by government, especially the Department of Defense,” Carter said.

Today, the government is still a major sponsor, he added, but much more technology is commercial, the technology base is global, and other countries have been trying to catch up with the breakthroughs that make the U.S. military more advanced than any other force.

“We’ve had to make sure that we stay ahead,” the secretary said, “and stay the best.”

Defending the Nation

Throughout such transitions, he said, “what hasn’t changed about this place in all my time here, and I don’t think it’ll ever change, is what brought us here. Each and every one of you … is doing the noblest things a person can do with their life. And that’s defend this magnificent country and make a better world for our children.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with West Point cadets about Force of the Future initiatives and the best ways to make the armed forces appealing to young adults at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee
Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with West Point cadets about Force of the Future initiatives and the best ways to make the armed forces appealing to young adults at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee
Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with West Point cadets about Force of the Future initiatives and the best ways to make the armed forces appealing to young adults at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee
Force of the Future Meeting
Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with West Point cadets about Force of the Future initiatives and the best ways to make the armed forces appealing to young adults at the Pentagon, Nov. 9, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee
Photo By: MC1 Tim D. Godbee
VIRIN: 161109-D-SK590-053B

Carter said he sees that commitment every day when he walks the halls, watching the people of DoD work together to confront each challenge the nation faces around the world.

He’s seen it, he said, in Americans standing with allies and countering the prospect of Russian aggression in Europe, in Americans managing historic change in the Asia-Pacific region, in Americans on bases and aboard ships in the Middle East, in the eyes of those accelerating the lasting defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and in those at the Pentagon and elsewhere.

Carter said he’s heard dedication in the proposals of those thinking outside the Pentagon’s five-sided box, at Defense Innovation Unit Experimental outposts, at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, at DoD labs and research centers, in the Defense Digital Service and on the Defense Innovation Board to stay on the cutting edge.

“I’ve also felt that commitment in all those across the department and in each of the services who are dedicated to building the Force of the Future for generations to come … and that same dedication in the voices of all those who will make up and who will lead that Force of the Future,” Carter said.

02:15
VIDEO | 02:15 | Carter Notes Future Generation of Service Members

Serving the Nation

Carter said the calling to serve the nation brought him to the Pentagon 35 years ago and kept bringing him back.

“It is what brings you here every day, … and it’s what drives the 3 million Americans serving in uniform and as civilians, across this country and around the clock, in every time zone on Earth, in every domain – in the air, ashore, afloat, and even in cyberspace,” Carter said.

Because of that service, the secretary said, citizens live their lives, dream their dreams, enjoy the freedoms on which the nation was built, and for which so many generations of Americans have fought.

“As all of you know,” the secretary said, “our mission is demanding and constantly changing, but I couldn’t be prouder of you for what you do every day and what you’ve done for us. And I’m going to continue to be proud in the months and years ahead, as this department continues to live up to the incredibly high expectations Americans have for it.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)