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Remarks by Secretary Carter at a Troop Event in Goa, India

April 11, 2016
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter

STAFF: I'd like to introduce our 25th Secretary of Defense, Secretary Carter.

Sir.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: It is true. (inaudible) and I go back a long ways. At first, I thought -- we were just talking earlier. By now, having been associated with this spectacular institution for a long time, I know that most of us here have seen your leadership (inaudible).

So he and I have worked in several reincarnations, but it does go back all the way to a time when he was a student -- obviously, he did pretty well. He's right about one thing. And that is that you are what I wake up for every morning. You are what I'm thinking about all the time. It's you, I know, that first of all, make ours the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

It's our people. I mean, our ships are wonderful, but it's you. And, when it comes to being in a place like India, it's you and it's what you stand for, which is built into you. One of the reasons that I -- cause I talk to people around the world, is that I like working with your folks.

And you say, why? And they say, well, because of the values that they bring, the way that they conduct themselves, which is not only competent, but it's respectful of other people. They're easy and efficient to work with. We like working with them.

And also, I think we're attractive as partners strategically. And I hear this also. I have just observed from the fact that the United States has more friends, partners and allies around the globe than any other country.

And indeed, most of those with whom we have differences, regular or occasion, have few or none at all. But we do. And it's not just because we're powerful. It's because of what we stand for and stand up for. So that's the first thing. That you -- your well-being. That we don't send you into risk without thinking very carefully about the necessity of that, but also how to make you successful and making sure that you have everything that you need to protect yourselves.

And again, to the extent we can, compatible with the profession of arms and the way we have to ask you to go away from your families for a long time and to accept hardships, whatever we can do to make it possible for the very best Americans to be in our military. And once they're in, to stay in our military.

The other thing I want to say to you today is to talk to you about the importance of what you're doing right here, right now. First of all, you represent our style of strategic interaction. You're working with others to make a better world for everyone and a better world for all our children.

That's the American approach to things. It's not to carve things up. It's not to intimidate people or to coerce people to exclude people. The American style has always been to include people in protecting us all. That's one of the reasons why people like working with us. It's one of the reasons why we're effective.

You're in a region right now, which, first of all, will be of great, big consequence, more than any other single region in the world, to America's future, because it's where half of the world's population lives and half of its economic activity is.

But it's also a place that is illustrated for seven, straight decades now, the strategic approach of the United States that I just described and that I'm so proud of and that your presence here represents. Mainly, one in which we have been playing a pivotal role in keeping peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Now, what has happened in those 70 years, in this region, with the sole exception, granted, of North Korea, country after country has risen and prospered. And whole continents that were once poor people have been able to uplift themselves. Just think about that. Go back 50 years, 60 years, 70 years to Japan, South Korea. Then Taiwan. Remember? Then Southeast Asia.

Today, and here, where we are now, China also rising, prospering. That's good. We're for that. But it doesn't come for free. There has to be peace and stability for that to happen. And so, we've been part of the system created by, in essence, with the rebalance, which you've heard about. Our emphasis on this region isn't just because it's about the (inaudible) important, but it's because we have a winning, strategic approach, which is (inaudible).

With respect to the Indians in particular, I'll just say this. You've been hearing and (inaudible). Here's a -- think about ways in which we're compatible with this country. Here's a country of a billion people that's a democracy. That is a melting pot, in which every piece of the melting pot is respected. Where there's a civil society in which people openly debate and discuss and aren't repressed. And they do that in a really quite exuberant way.

Here in India, where rule of law is important. And whose approach is conditioned by its own history and uniqueness, but has a lot of overlap. India's interests, and ours, like any other country, aren't identical. But, they overlap, a lot. And so, we're trying to take advantage of this moment to take -- to make -- move forward, that strategic convergence.

We say that a U.S.-India relationship, for all the reasons I just said, size and fundamental compatibility, is going to be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century, worldwide. Certainly with the United States. So that's why we're working on it so hard.

And the last thing I'll say. The reason that we have to work on the U.S.-India relationship is simply historical. Because remember, India was born about seven decades ago or so. And when it was born, its policy was not one that was to associate with the United States. It wasn't against the United States, but it did not associate much with the United States.

And so, what that means is our militaries grew up separately, our technology systems grew up separately and now we want them to work together. We have to try to get the gears to match up. And that's not automatic. We have to work hard at that. So, that's why we're working at it. That's why I'm here. That's why you're hear. But, it's a winning hand that we're playing on out here.

So, thanks for who you are and tell your families please, next time you're in touch with them, from me, but I'm really trying to speak for our whole country, thank you for what you're doing. And secondly, remember, you'll look back in years ahead and say, I remember that. I was the part of the beginning of that.

You will. I promise you, in your futures, will be thinking exactly that. So thanks. And now, I think what I get to do is look each of you in the eye individually. Say thank you once again, and give you the Ash Carter SecDef coins, which I used to be able to say were for a rarity because they were new, but now it's been dragging on for a little while. But I gather they do fetch a little something on eBay.

(Laughter.)

Probably at an ever decreasing price, but there you go. But I'm looking at them, these faces here and there isn't a single one that would ever think about selling the coin that I'm about to give you.

All right. Come on up.