WASHINGTON, June 27, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter yesterday thanked U.S. troops stationed at Grafenwoehr, Germany, and told them their presence is important to the way of life that people in America and in Europe enjoy.
“You are deterring aggression. You're preparing to respond to crises. You're preparing to deal with terrorism,” the secretary said. “And this is necessary in order for civilized society to exist. And we do it with our colleagues here in Europe, because by and large, they see things the way we do. They share a lot of the same values that we have.”
A year ago, Carter noted, the NATO alliance was wondering what it was going to do after Afghanistan. “And in the intervening year,” he added, “we've discovered not only one thing to do, but two things to do.”
Russia, ISIL Pose Challenges
NATO is challenged by Russia’s actions and by what the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant means for the alliance’s southern and southeastern flanks and the nations that live there, the secretary told the troops. “And that has reminded this continent of the need for us to work hard to protect our own people,” he said. “It's not a birthright that you get to live life the way people here in Germany do, the way people do in the United States. We need what we have, which is the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”
Carter told the troops that military leaders and the American people appreciate what they’re doing. “I think, speaking for all of our fellow citizens in the United States, [that we are] deeply grateful to you, proud of you, admiring of you and what you do,” he said.
The men and women serving the nation are “what I wake up for every morning,” Carter said.
“It's the people in our military that make us great," he added. "We have great equipment. We have great training and training ranges. And, you know, all that's true, but at the end of the day, what makes us the best is you.”
Force of the Future
Getting good people to join the military and continue to serve is his most important responsibility, Carter said, “because we have to make the force of the future from the people who are going to be our future, and that's you.”
During a question-and-answer session that followed his remarks, the secretary said that although he doesn’t foresee an increase in permanent stationing, he does expect to see increases in operational tempo, training tempo and rotational presence for U.S. forces in Europe.
“We need people at home, because they need to be with their families and so forth,” he said. “But we need our military to be familiar with the rest of the world, because that's where conflicts are. And that's where we're going to become engaged. And if you've never been here, you're going to have a big learning curve if we ever deploy you here. And that's not going to be either fair to you or effective.”