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    Secretary of defense highlights Alaska’s importance during visit to Fort Wainwright

    Secretary of defense addresses troops

    Photo By Sachel Harris | Secretary of Defense Ash Carter addresses Soldiers and Airmen Oct. 30, 2015, at Fort...... read more read more



    Story by Sachel Harris 

    United States Army Alaska

    FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Fort Wainwright October 30 to observe the Stryker Brigade, learn more about Pacific partnerships and speak to Soldiers and Airmen about the future of the force and innovation.

    Upon his arrival, Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, commanding general of U.S. Army Alaska and Lt. Gen. Russell Handy, commander of Alaskan Command, also known as USARAK and ALCOM respectively, welcomed Secretary Carter. During the visit, Secretary Carter met with senior military leaders during various roundtable discussions focusing on operations in the Pacific.

    Throughout his address to the troops, Secretary Carter thanked the service members and emphasized how important they are.

    “Right now, right here in Alaska, you are at the hinge of a lot of what’s important strategically and what’s happening strategically,” said the secretary. “You stand for 70 years of the United States being the pivotal power in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

    Carter added that Alaska is a key location for the defense department because of its proximity to Asia and the Arctic.

    "That's a two-way street, so it means that everything that could affect us comes over or by or near Alaska, and that puts you at the center of an awful lot," he said. “The Asia-Pacific region is of great consequence to the American future, more than any other single area in the whole world.”

    Fort Wainwright is the home of the United States Army Garrison and units of USARAK, including the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, also known as the 1-25th SBCT and the Medical Department Activity - Alaska. USARAK is the Army’s northernmost command and the only command that rains year-round in Arctic and Sub-Arctic conditions, making Soldiers who train here experts at high-altitude and extreme-cold-weather operations.

    The secretary Carter commended the soldiers for taking part in the Pacific Pathways exercises with partner countries, describing it as a "great innovation" to situate the Army at the center of the strategic transition. Soldiers recently returned from a Pacific Pathways deployment to Korea, Japan and Mongolia and are preparing for additional training with Asian armies this year.

    Before closing, he reiterated his most important message of the day.

    "The main thing I want to tell you is thank you. Thank you for what you do four our country,” said the secretary. “As secretary of defense, you are what I wake up for every morning. You’re where my heart is all the time. I am incredibly proud of you.”

    After speaking, Carter answered questions from the service members, addressing concerns such as fighting sexual assault in the military and suicide prevention. He also discussed his concerns for the world.

    “The bad news is there's a lot. The good news is that you wake up every morning being part of the solution to all those problems,” added the secretary. “And that is a tribute to you. But it's an honor and privilege to live your life being part of something bigger than yourselves. And you guys each get to do that. So thank you for that.”

    At the conclusion of the event, Carter shook the hands of and coined the 200 service members and civilians in attendance.

    His visit to Alaska was the beginning of an eight-day trip focusing on the rebalance to the Pacific.



    Date Taken: 10.31.2015
    Date Posted: 11.02.2015 13:07
    Story ID: 180604
    Location: FORT WAINWRIGHT , AK, US 

    Web Views: 124
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