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Media Availability with Secretary Carter at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Ohio

STAFF: Is there anything you want to say off the top?

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: I said everything, I hope they caught it all about the importance of Wright-Pat. Everything it does, all the system program offices central to our Air Force, all our more essential and advanced programs are managed from here. I happen to be in part of the Air Force Research Laboratory right now, which is one of our best laboratories in what is the finest, most innovative military in the world. That's not a birthright, that's something that we work hard at having every year and in particular, we work hard at by having the best scientists and engineers and boy we ever here at AFRL.

So this is a place that is an essential part of our future. It has a bright future itself for a young scientist or technologist who wants to be -- to do things that are exciting but also are the most important things you can do with your life, which is protect our country and make a better world for our children.

STAFF: Got time for a couple quick questions. Barry, I know you've been asking for a few days, so...


Q: Hi sir, thanks. Wanted to ask you sir, do you plan to name more DIUx outpost and is there any chance in Dayton, maybe one of those places?

SEC. CARTER: We do and yes. We do intend to do more. Now, I'm not prepared to announce any today but the second part of your question is would Dayton be a good place to have one? Yes it would and why, because it's one of the technology hubs of our country. And what we're trying to do is make sure that we have a -- as a department, a presence in all of the America's technology hubs so that people can get to know us and get to know the importance of our mission, the excitement of contributing to it.

Now it just so happens that you also already have the Air Force Research Laboratory so what I will want to do is make sure that we build our any additional innovative outposts on top of the Air Force Research Laboratory, which is already here. We were already -- feel blessed because we're connected to the Dayton technology hub through Air Force Research Laboratory as well. Remember, we only have one Air Force Research Laboratory, it's in Dayton. We don't have one everywhere else around the country.

STAFF: Idrees?

Q: Thank you, sorry, I have a broad question on Afghanistan. When you became secretary about a year and a half ago, February 2015, the situation in Afghanistan was bad but now it seems to have gotten significantly worse and the two service members dying today would speak to that. What's happened in the past year and a half that's made it go from bad to worse? And with the 8,400 troops, which is less (inaudible) make things more precarious than they are?

SEC. CARTER: Well, the Afghan security forces, whom we are enabling and have trained, have gotten stronger every year. And they have in fact gotten better able to do what we want them to do and they want to do, which is make sure that Afghans are able to govern themselves and control their territory, number one. And number two, from our point of view, that it doesn't become, ever again, a hub from which terrorism can strike the United States.

And the Afghan Security Forces are getting stronger every year. They've accomplished that, they've performed very well this fighting season, they are much more mobile than they were in previous fighting seasons. They are taking casualties and our two losses remind us this continues to be a very serious mission for us. But we are going to accomplish it; we're going to accomplish our mission there. In Afghanistan our way of doing that is by strengthening the Afghan Security Forces and we're doing that and they are getting stronger.

But I want to -- I do want to say that when we send people there, there's nothing more serious, that responsibility I have as secretary of defense, than to put people in harms way and there are Americans in harms way in Afghanistan. But they're accomplishing a critical mission. We lost two this morning and I think that as I said this morning, we all have to remember what we owe to these people and our hearts have to go out to them, to their families but they're part of the DOD family so we all feel that they were doing what we need them to do in Afghanistan.

STAFF: Nathan.

Q: Mr. Secretary, was there anything specifically that you saw here that carries forward the message of innovation and within the military and how that can be used in generations to come?

SEC. CARTER: Everything here represents how technology is central to our national security today and also to everything we're doing for the future. This is a place that's doing path breaking technology work which, means that it's doing work on the programs' systems, the new things, even the surprising things that we can't talk about that will continue to make the American military the dominant one on this planet. That's their mission and that's what they're going to do.

So for example -- just to give you a few examples, the -- standing here in a place where frontier work in aeromedical science is being done, where human performance work at the frontier is being done so that our airmen, but also soldiers, sailors and marines, their performance, how they train, their survivability in some cases can be enhanced. And then a little bit later I'll go over to the B21 program office, a new bomber that we're building, it's going to be excellent.

It's a needed one and we embarked on that program some time ago and the program office is here so there's just some examples of what is being done right here at AFRL.

STAFF: Martin, you get the last one.

Q: Going back to where you started your day sir, U.S. Strategic Command, I'm wondering how close is the administration to raising Cyber Command to its own unified combatant command and are you going to lay out a scheme to decouple the leadership at NSA and Cyber Com?

SEC. CARTER: Well, that's certainly something we've been thinking about for quite a while and I think that would be part of a logical evolution here where we're still working through when and how to accomplish that if we do choose to do that. There are some benefits to having Cyber Com and NSA co-located and managed under one hat because they do some similar things from a technology point of view.

On the other hand, there are some advantages to having Cyber Com operated as a more normal military command so that it can be responsive to the needs of our combatant commanders around the world. And so those are the two things we're looking at and as we make a decision, obviously it would be a decision the president would make, we're trying to make sure we can have our cake and eat it too. But I think it will be possible but it may take some time.

STAFF: Thanks everyone, appreciate it.


SEC. CARTER: Thanks everybody, appreciate it.