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Updated: 9 min 52 sec ago

Remarks by Secretary Carter at ASEAN Defense Informal

3 hours 14 min ago
Remarks by Secretary Carter at ASEAN Defense Informal Sept. 30, 2016 SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Well, good morning, everyone. I hope you enjoyed last night's reception. It's good to see you all. I look forward to our conversations today. It's good to be with so many good friends and wonderful partners.
 
Listen, before I get started, I'd like to thank my ASEAN counterparts and the ASEAN Secretary General especially for joining us here today in Hawaii for these important discussions. In particular, I'd also like to recognize Lao Minister of National Defense Lieutenant General Chansamone for his leadership of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting this year.
 
And I'd also like to acknowledge ASEAN itself. For nearly 50 years, ASEAN and its members countries have helped to provide the security and uphold the principles that have served all of our nations - and the entire Asia-Pacific - so well and for so long. And I know ASEAN will continue to be central to the region's principled future.
 
At this meeting, we'll reaffirm our commitment - made by our national leaders at Sunnylands and at the 4th U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Laos earlier this month - to strengthen cooperation on the shared security challenges in this vital corner of the dynamic Asia-Pacific.
 
We'll share our nation's perspectives on security and listen to others. And we'll make plans to further catalyze the Asia-Pacific's principled and inclusive security network. This principled and inclusive security network will help us all connect, cooperate, and contribute to regional security. It's principled because this network will help us uphold important principles, like resolving disputes peacefully; ensuring countries can make their own choices free from foreign coercion and intimidation; and preserving the freedom of overflight and navigation guaranteed by international law.
 
And the network's inclusive, since any nation and any military - no matter its capability, budget, or experience - can contribute. And that's important because - as we see at meetings like this one here today - every nation has a stake in ensuring this network's success and every military can make a vital contribution to regional security.
 
This morning, I'd also like to share with you the plans and commitments the United States is making in the third phase of our so-called rebalance. In this next phase, the Defense Department is going to take steps to help catalyze the principled and inclusive security network, even as we qualitatively improve the United States' force posture in the region.
 
These steps will ensure the United States and the principled and inclusive security network have the necessary people, payloads, platforms, plans, and experience to ensure the Asia-Pacific remains a region where everyone can rise and prosper.
 
America's ongoing rebalance and the region's burgeoning security network are important at a time of regional change and challenges. Together, ASEAN and all our nations can develop the cooperation we'll need to ensure security for decades to come, even as we work together to address today's immediate challenges, like maritime security and countering-extremism.
 
On maritime security, open sea lanes are critical to sustaining the region's dynamic economy. The United States would like to help all our nations see more, share more, and do more to keep Southeast Asia's vital waterways open and secure.
 
On counterterrorism, the United States is focused on accelerating the lasting and certain defeat of ISIL in its parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and everywhere it might metastasize around the world, including Southeast Asia and in our homeland itself.
 
Together, we can strengthen our cooperation to counter violent extremism and to impede ISIL's metastasis and influence in the Asia-Pacific.
 
Now, as we get started and the press departs, I'd like to introduce Ambassador David Shear, my Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy whose going to help me moderate the discussion today. If you'd like to speak, please indicate so. Just turn up your placard and Dave will recognize you just like that.
 
Thank you. And thank you to the press.
Categories: US DoD Feeds

Remarks on “The Future of the Rebalance: Enabling Security in the Vital & Dynamic Asia-Pacific”

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 19:24
Remarks on “The Future of the Rebalance: Enabling Security in the Vital & Dynamic Asia-Pacific” As Delivered by Ash Carter, USS Carl Vinson, San Diego, California, Sept. 29, 2016

Good morning, gang. Good morning, every one. 

Let me start by saying how great it is to be in San Diego.  And I appreciate that this beautiful city here has been a community that’s welcomed our military for many years.  We don’t take it for granted.  And we’re grateful to you.  Thank you.

Where’d Mike go?  Here we are…on no, no, please sit down.  Thank you, Mike.  One of the many ways Mike has given me help over the long time we’ve known each other.  You all are lucky to have Mike in command out here.  Secretary of Defense isn’t a bad title but “Air Boss” is a great title.  And he does a very good job of it.

Also, Doug Verissimo, Doug, V8, your Captain.  But I’m here to talk to you, all of you, the sailors of the Carl Vinson.  First to thank you for everything you do every day. And then to say something about the strategic meaning of what you’re accomplishing for our nation and our world here.

For over three decades, the men and women of the Gold Eagle have done what is the noblest thing a person – each and every one of you – can do with your lives, which is defend our great country and make a better world for our children.  And today, you – and the rest of what is the finest fighting force the world has ever known, America’s – are addressing squarely the five major, immediate, evolving challenges we face as a nation in our security.

First, we’re countering the prospect of Russian aggression and coercion, especially in Europe.  We’re managing historic change in the Asia-Pacific…more on that in a moment, where China is rising, which is fine, but sometimes behaving aggressively, which is not.  Indeed, we’re also strengthening our deterrent and defense forces in the face of North Korea’s continued nuclear and missile provocations.  We’re checking Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf, and protecting our friends and allies in the Middle East.  And every day, and as we sit here right now, we’re accelerating the certain defeat of ISIL, destroying the fact and the idea that there can be a state based upon this evil ideology, first in its parent tumor in Iraq and Syria, and everywhere it metastasizes around the world, even as we continue to help protect our people here in at home. 

Now, today, I want to speak with you about our strategy with respect to what is the single most consequential region for America’s future: which is the Asia-Pacific.  And I want to echo what the Air Boss said a moment ago, which is what we all believe: your mission here is critically important to our country, to our security and that of our friends and allies.

I spent the past couple of days with some of the thousands of men and women, military and civilian, who contribute to our nuclear deterrence mission.  And I’ll tell you the same thing I told them: even if your mission – whether it’s at a missile silo in North Dakota or on an aircraft carrier in what is today the relatively peaceful Asia-Pacific – isn’t in the headlines everyday –as I see it, we’re in real trouble when what you do gets in the headlines – your mission here is one of fundamental strategic importance to our country, and that it’s not in the headlines is a tribute to your success – we need you to keep it that way.  Remember: this region, with half of humanity, half of the world’s economy, is the single most consequential region for America’s future – and indeed for the world’s.

Indeed, the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, which President Obama announced five years ago, is a critical national commitment.  It includes diplomatic, economic, and military components all to ensure – at a time of dramatic political, economic, and security change in the region – that the Asia-Pacific remains a place where every nation can rise and prosper. 

To do that, as all of you know, nations are going to need security.  People can’t have all the other things that make life meaningful if they’re not safe.  That’s essential for the Asia-Pacific’s continued progress.  And that’s our charge – and your charge.  DoD’s component of the rebalance – the work you and your fellow American servicemembers carry out with strength, commitment, and principle  – will help this dynamic region realize its potential in that principled future. 

The good news is, we don’t have to do this alone.  We’re strong, but we also have many friends, partners, and allies in the region – part of a burgeoning principled and inclusive security network in the Asia-Pacific.  This afternoon, I’m flying on to Hawaii to meet with ten of those partners, my counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, to discuss how we’re partnering together in new ways to ensure security and stability in that vital corner of the cast Asia-Pacific.

So before I depart, I want to remind you – who are at the center of everything out here, and at the center of all our minds back in Washington – about all that DoD is doing to operationalize the rebalance – to ensure we have the people, payloads, platforms, the war plans, and the partners to continue bolstering security in the region for decades to come.  And I also want to share with you the first steps we’ll be taking – that you’ll be taking – in the next phase, the next phase, of the rebalance, our third, to catalyze the Asia-Pacific’s principled and inclusive security network and ensure the Asia-Pacific remains a region where every nation can rise and prosper.

That’s been America’s objective and America’s practice since World War II.  In fact, tomorrow I’ll host the Southeast Asian defense ministers aboard the U.S.S. Missouri.  The “Mighty Mo,” as it’s called, is most famous for being the site 71 years ago this month of the signing ceremony that ended World War II.  At the end of the session, General Douglas MacArthur, who presided over the ceremony, said, “Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world, and that God will preserve it always.” 

With that prayer, and in the decades since, millions of American men and women serving in uniform across the Asia-Pacific have helped restore the region and preserve its stability.  Every port call and every flight hour, every exercise and operation, and every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine has made important contributions to the Asia-Pacific’s security.  Those Americans – including all of you – have also helped uphold and defend important principles, like resolving disputes peacefully; ensuring countries can make choices free from external coercion and intimidation; and preserving the freedom of overflight and navigation guaranteed by international law.

And we’ve seen how U.S.-enabled security and these principles have helped countries throughout the region make incredible progress.  Think about it… first Japan, then Taiwan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, rose and prospered, and today, China and India do the same.  That progress has produced incredible changes in the region: populations are growing, education has improved, freedom and self-determination have taken hold, economies are becoming more interconnected, and military spending is increasing. 

Amid all this remarkable change and progress, America’s objectives in the Asia-Pacific have endured since that day on the Missouri: we still want peace, stability, and progress in the Asia-Pacific.  But as the region has changed, our approach has had to change along with it.  That’s why five years ago President Obama announced in Australia that the United States was going to launch the rebalance, to quote him, “play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.” 

That last word – future – is important.  The rebalance is about the future.  With it, we’re not trying to stop or rewind the clock in the Asia-Pacific, for we know that in the decades after World War II, amid the region’s ruins and unhealed wounds dating back to that war and even to the decades before, not every nation got the opportunity to fully realize its potential.  That legacy – along with the region’s many internal rifts and historical tensions of which you’re very familiar – must be overcome.  And the great nations and peoples of the Asia-Pacific must each be able to realize their full potential.

The rebalance is an investment in the region’s future – it will help the Asia-Pacific unlock its tremendous promise and to build a brighter future.  And that’s good for the United States.  For example, the United States wants to reinforce the open and inclusive economic approach that we all know can continue to benefit the region.  That’s why one of the most important non-military initiatives of the rebalance is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, which will bind the United States more closely together with 11 other economies, guarantee a high-quality, high-standard trade system, and support more U.S. exports and higher-paying American jobs.  For those reasons, and its strategic value, TPP is an opportunity the region and the United States cannot afford to miss.

Unfortunately, challenges always accompany opportunities in times of change.  Today in the Asia-Pacific, there are a number of security challenges, including North Korea, which, with its nuclear saber-rattling, continues to threaten our allies and heighten tensions in the region.  There are also challenges to the shared principles we’ve long helped uphold.  For example, maritime concerns in the East and South China Seas, the Indian Ocean, and elsewhere pose a risk to the region’s prosperous future.  Terrorism and other transnational threats spare no region of the globe. 

As we support these principles, the United States will continue to stand with our allies and partners, and we will – as we have demonstrated and as we will continue to demonstrate – fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.

With the military component of the rebalance, the United States will help the region to meet these challenges and to remain the primary mainstay of security in the Asia-Pacific.  The men and women of the Defense Department, including all of you, have pursued each phase of the rebalance with strength, commitment, and inclusion.

In the first phase beginning five years ago, DoD quantitatively and geographically enhanced the U.S. military’s force posture in this vast region.  After years of emphasis on counterterrorism and wars in the Middle East, which we needed to pay attention to, and in light of the regional changes since the end of the Cold War, we made a choice to strengthen our posture in the Asia-Pacific to make it more robust, as well as more geographically distributed, more operationally resilient, and politically sustainable in the region. 

That’s why DoD sent tens of thousands of additional American personnel to the region.  That’s why we committed to homeporting 60 percent of our naval and overseas air assets in the Asia-Pacific by 2020.  That’s why we began to modernize our footprint in Japan and the Republic of Korea.  And that’s why we began to realign our Marines from a highly-centralized presence in Okinawa, Japan, to additional locations in Australia, Hawaii, and Guam – the latter serving as a strategic hub.

In the second phase of DoD’s rebalance, which we launched last year, we’ve made qualitative improvements to our force posture – upgrading our own military capabilities – while at the same time also modernizing and advancing our defense relationships to reflect regional change and new opportunities.

The second phase’s force posture improvements included sending our best people – sailors like you – and assigning our most advanced capabilities to the Asia-Pacific, including F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter jets, P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, continuous deployments of strategic bombers, and our newest surface warfare vessels, including all of our newest stealth destroyers, the DDG-1000.  We also continued making strategic and substantial investments in new capabilities critical to the rebalance, like not only growing the overall number of surface ships but also making each of them much more lethal, and investing more in Virginia-class submarines and in areas like cyber.  And we developed new and innovative strategies and operational concepts, which we put to use in more complex and expansive training exercises – both on our own and with our allies and partners – none larger than this summer’s RIMPAC.

Also in the second phase, we sought to modernize America’s relationships with militaries across the region.  These are ties that have been nurtured over decades, tested in crisis, and built on shared interests, values, and sacrifice.  But they also need to evolve to reflect growing capabilities, new national aspirations, and changing security needs. 

You can see the breadth and depth of this modernization…starting with our allies.

The U.S.-Japan alliance, to begin with, remains the cornerstone of Asia-Pacific security.  And with our new Defense Guidelines, the U.S.-Japan alliance has never been stronger, or more capable of contributing to security in the region and beyond. 

Our alliance with the Republic of Korea also continues to evolve, to assure deterrence on the Korean peninsula…including through the joint decision earlier this year to deploy the THAAD ballistic missile defense system to the Republic of Korea to help defend against North Korean threats there. 

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Australia alliance is, more and more, a global one.  As our two nations partner together across the Asia-Pacific, we’re also together accelerating the defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. 

Our long-standing alliance with Thailand goes back to the 19th century and continues to benefit both countries and contribute to regional security. 

And as it has been for decades, our alliance with the Philippines is ironclad.  And through the landmark Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, the United States is supporting the modernization of the Philippine Armed Forces. 

Next, America’s regional partnerships are growing in number and strength.

The U.S.-India military relationship is the closest it’s ever been.  Great nation, large, democracy.  Through our strategic handshake – with America reaching west in the rebalance, and India reaching east in what Prime Minister Modi calls  his Act East policy – our two nations are exercising together by air, land, and sea – never did that before.  And there’s also a technological handshake – the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, or DTTI, grasps hands with Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India campaign – helping our countries move toward more diverse defense co-development and co-production of weapons systems.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Singapore relationship continues to grow, with Singapore’s hosting of American littoral combat ships and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.

The U.S.-Vietnam partnership has also been dramatically strengthened.  The United States lifted the ban on lethal weapons sales to Vietnam recently to provide Vietnam greater access to the military equipment it needs and wants.  In fact, today, right as we speak, right here the U.S.S. John McCain – named after the father of Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee – is visiting Vietnam as we speak.  I spoke with Senator McCain just yesterday about the historical significance of this visit.

And notably, the American and New Zealand militaries have taken an important step forward, as later this fall a U.S. Navy destroyer will make the first American port call in New Zealand in 30 years.

And, in the second phase, we’ve also started to connect – and network – these allies and partners together.  A good example is our Maritime Security Initiative, which we launched last year.  It represents an initial $425-million-dollar, five-year, American commitment to enable a regional maritime security network in Southeast Asia.  More than simply providing hardware, this initiative helps the United States enable the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand to connect and work with each other – and us – so they can all see more, share more, and do more to ensure maritime security throughout the vital waters of Southeast Asia. 

Now, given our inclusive approach, DoD is also taking steps to modernize our military-to-military relationship with China.  In recent years, we’ve strengthened communications between our two militaries and reduced the risk of miscalculations that could lead to crises.  We’ve recently concluded two confidence-building measures, one on maritime rules of behavior and another on crisis communications.  We also regularly participate together in multilateral exercises, such as RIMPAC, that demonstrate the value of working together to address security issues.  And our two militaries also hold regular dialogues and high-level consultations that seek to minimize misunderstanding.  

Now, the United States still has serious concerns with some of China’s recent actions on the seas, in cyberspace, and elsewhere.  Beijing sometimes appears to want to pick and choose which principles it wants to benefit from and which it prefers to try to undercut.  For example, the universal right to freedom of navigation that allows China’s ships and aircraft to transit safely and peacefully is the same right that Beijing criticizes other countries for exercising in the region.  But principles are not like that.  They apply to everyone, and to every nation, equally.

As President Obama has said, the U.S.-China relationship will have elements of cooperation but also competition.  We hope that China chooses to join the rest of the region in strengthening and upholding the shared principles that have helped so many nations around the region, including China, to rise and to prosper. 

In the third phase of the rebalance, we’ll cement the progress we’ve made in the first and second phases, and build upon it…first, by continuing to qualitatively upgrade and invest in our regional force posture with sustained and strategic investments, which I’ll describe in a moment and second, by catalyzing the Asia-Pacific’s principled and inclusive security network even more.

In this next phase, the United States will continue to sharpen our military edge so we remain the most powerful military in the region and the security partner of choice.  We’re already sending our best people and platforms into the region, and in the rebalance’s third phase, we’ll increase and target investments to ensure they – and all of you – stay the best. 

Here are some of the path-breaking, and high-tech improvements we’re making beginning in this budget this year:

  • We’re going to make more of our Virginia-class submarines more lethal and more capable by tripling their Tomahawk cruise missile strike capacity with the Virginia Payload Module. 
  • We’re increasing funding for undersea drones – in multiple sizes and diverse payloads – that can operate more effectively in shallow waters where manned subs cannot.  These are part of more than $40 billion we’re investing over the next five years to ensure we continue to have the most lethal undersea and anti-submarine force in the world.
  • We’re ensuring our continued air superiority and global reach, including with over $12 billion over the next five years for the new B-21 Raider Long-Range Strike Bomber. 
  • We’re investing more than $56 billion over the next five years to buy during this period alone more than [400] of the stealthy, fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters – including more for the Navy and Marine Corps – while also improving avionics, radar, and electronic warfare systems in legacy bomber and fighter aircraft. 
  • We’re upgrading our aerial tanker fleet, investing almost $16 billion over the next five years in KC-46A Pegasus tanker to help shrink the Asia-Pacific’s vast distances. 
  • We’re re-purposing the SM-6 missile so that it can also strike enemy ships at sea at very long ranges. 
  • We’re investing in other advanced munitions to improve range and accuracy for land attack and anti-ship missiles – some  new torpedoes – as well as some very creative – and we’re sure unexpected by potential foes – ways to use such missiles across the varied domains of the Asia-Pacific. 
  • And we’re also making large new investments in cyber, and electronic warfare, and space capabilities, a total of $34 billion just next year.

We’re going to have a few more surprises as well.  These “leap-ahead” investments will keep us ahead in the Asia-Pacific, and elsewhere.  I can’t share all the details on these for obvious reasons, but what our friends and our potential adversaries – and all of you – should know is that these new capabilities will help us keep our decades-old commitment to undergirding security in the Asia-Pacific, strong and unchallengeable  These advancements may change how we operate, they will, but they’ll never change why we do so: for the security for our people, for our friends and allies, and they principles that have benefited so many in the region for so long.

As we make these investments in our military edge, we’ll also catalyze the Asia-Pacific’s growing principled and inclusive security network.  Unlike elsewhere in the world, think about this, peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific has never been managed by a region-wide, formal structure like NATO has in Europe.  That’s because the Asia-Pacific is so different, with its unique history, geography, and politics, and accordingly bilateral relationships, one country to another, have instead been  the mainstay of military cooperation in the region.

And yet, as the Asia-Pacific continues to change, as it faces opportunities and challenges, as it becomes more interconnected politically and economically, the region’s militaries are increasingly coming together in new ways, and thereby creating, gradually, a security network  that’s principled and inclusive. 

We’re finding more and more every day– we in the United States are finding more every day —that nations in the Asia-Pacific see future opportunities to improve their militaries and their security, and they’re increasingly coming to us to partner.  And we also find more and more that they have concerns about the future – aggression and coercion, terrorism, and transnational threats, even natural disasters – and once again we experience a growing demand for American posture and American partnership.  Meeting this demand and fueling this vision is the other big part of the third phase of the rebalance. 

The result is the steady growth of a principled and inclusive security network.  It’s grounded in the principles – like freedom of navigation and overflight – that our countries have collectively promoted and upheld for decades.  And it’s inclusive since any nation and any military – no matter its capability, budget, or experience – can contribute.  Everyone gets a voice, and no one is excluded…and by the way, that includes China, and its military, and we hope China doesn’t exclude itself.

The principled and inclusive security network is not a formal alliance, nor is it an effort to contain or isolate any one.  Rather, it’s a way for the United States, all of our allies, partners, and friends, and others in the region to connect, cooperate, and contribute to regional security and to uphold shared principles.

This network’s been developing in several ways. 

First, trilateral mechanisms are bringing together trios of allies and partners that previously worked together only bilaterally.  This might seem like a small thing, but if you know the history out here, it’s not.  For example, the U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea, two great allies of ours with which we’ve worked for many decades with each individually, now willing to work together with us.  That partnership helps us coordinate responses, very importantly, to North Korean nuclear and missile provocations.  And for the very first time, our three nations conducted a trilateral ballistic missile warning exercise earlier this summer.

Second, beyond their relationships involving the United States, many countries within the Asia-Pacific are coming together on their own by establishing bilateral and trilateral mechanisms.  For example, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines recently agreed to coordinated trilateral maritime patrols to counter piracy, organized crime, and terrorist activity in the Sulu Sea.  This is a good thing on its own, but it’s also an important step for this developing network and the region.

And third, even more broadly, regional nations are developing a networked, multilateral regional security architecture – from one end of the region to the other – with, as a central example, the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus.  Tomorrow, as I mentioned, my ASEAN defense counterparts and I will gather in Hawaii to discuss regional challenges.  This is the second such informal dialogue the United States has hosted, and we’re going to reflect on our shared interests and principles and identify new ways to partner together to further realize them.

And of course, every security network needs networkers – nations, people, and militaries to enable it.  So even as we respond to these five challenges I talked about earlier all around the world, which only the United States has the strength to do, the U.S. Defense Department is also enabling the Asia-Pacific principled and inclusive security network to help networked militaries to do more with us, together, and on their own. 

So we’ll play our part, including in some specific ways.  American personnel postured throughout the region – in Australia, on Guam, and elsewhere – will deploy more often to operate with both their American colleagues and their regional counterparts.  That’ll help us solidify military-to-military relationships, strengthen security cooperation, and enhance deterrence.  These deployments and our investments will also improve interoperability so that our militaries can work with and off of the same platforms.  And, the exercises we’ve held for years, and intensified in phase two of the rebalance, will also grow more frequent and complex.  And we’re going to supply the resources to make it so.

DoD also appreciates that many of our U.S. government partners have their own rebalance initiatives, and each offers new opportunities to work together in this vital region.  So for example, we’ll increase the U.S. Coast Guard’s engagement with our ASEAN partners.  And along with the State Department, we’ll weave together our security assistance programs in the Asia-Pacific so we can boost the capabilities of our allies and partners and the security network, while making them more interoperable. 

All of these efforts demonstrate how DoD will continue to pursue – on our own and with our partners at home and in the region – new ways ensure security in the Asia-Pacific.  One possibility is in cyber.  Because the network is so rich with nations with cyber expertise, including Japan, Korea, India, Singapore, as each of our countries develop their cyber capabilities, we can learn from each other and cooperate together in this important domain.

In total, the third phase of the rebalance and the principled and inclusive security network will improve how we – and all of you – ensure regional security and uphold principles in the years ahead.  For example, after a future typhoon, we may see an Australian P-8 with Singaporean personnel aboard coordinate with an American destroyer in search and rescue operations.  And freedom of navigation may also be upheld, in part, by joint – and networked – patrols, as networked navies and air forces fly, sail, and operate together everywhere that international law allows…to ensure the region’s waterways remain safe and open.

And of course – and this is what I want to conclude with – the key to all of this…to the third phase of the rebalance, is all of you.  You, and your fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will solidify the rebalance, you will make this network work, and you will help the Asia-Pacific – once again, the single most consequential region for America’s future and the world – realize a principled and peaceful and prosperous future.  And play the role only America can play.

You’ll do so with strength.  After all, you’re part of the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  There’s no one stronger, no one more capable, no one more innovative…because our military edge is second-to-none.  And it will be, it will be so, as far into the future as I can see.  Because through our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, we’re making investments to ensure you stay the best and the United States remains the region’s strongest military. 

You’ll do so with commitment and the commitment of the entire Defense Department and entire nation at your backs.  Each part – economic, political, and military – and each phase of the rebalance has been a commitment to realizing the Asia-Pacific’s principled future.  As you carry out the rebalance’s third phase, you’re not only answering your nation’s call and ensuring the United States meets this commitment; you’re also meeting the call of our regional allies and partners.

And most important, you’ll do so with principle.  That’s who we are as a country, and it’s who you are as a military.  You’re our best networkers.  You’re why we have so many friends and partner.  It’s not an accident.  Because you are not only immensely skilled and capable, but you embody the principles that have helped so many in the Asia-Pacific already to rise and prosper – inspiring, cooperating, including, representing the principles that others value, other people want, and working with our allies and partners to ensure a better world.  That reputation of yours makes me proud. 

With your strength, commitment, and inclusion, and your contributions to the rebalance’s third phase, you’re carrying on a pretty rich heritage: one passed from those who served on the Missouri seven decades ago, to those who serve on the Vinson here today.  From those who served in the Asia-Pacific in World War II and the Cold War, to those of the post 9/11 era.  And from those who’ve worked on the rebalance’s first and second phases to those who will execute its third phase and its future phases.  In this, you will help realize the prayer MacArthur spoke 71 years ago this month – you will help preserve peace, stability, and progress.  And in so doing, you will keep our country safe, and ensure the Asia-Pacific remains a region where everyone can rise and prosper. 

Thank you.  Keep it up.  Your country is behind you.  I’m 100 percent behind you.

# # #

Categories: US DoD Feeds

Spirit of Hope Award

Wed, 09/28/2016 - 15:49
Spirit of Hope Award As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, Pentagon, Sept. 28, 2016 Thanks, Mike, for that suitably short introduction, and for all you do for all of us who work here in the pentagon.

Good morning everybody.  It’s a real pleasure to be here today, representing secretary carter, to recognize a select group of americans who have given their time and hearts supporting the magnificent men and women who serve their country with such skill and sacrifice in our armed forces and department of defense. 

Today we present each of them with the spirit of hope award, named after an american  icon—bob hope—who as an international star in entertainment spent most of his adult life supporting troops around the world.  Mike has spoken eloquently about bob hope so let me just say a few brief words about this american hero.  

Beginning in may 1941, and continuing for nearly fifty years, bob hope brought his variety show to military camps and war zones across the globe to entertain the troops and provide them a brief escape from the trials of the battlefield.
  
Flying millions of miles, he headlined 57 uso tours from world war ii, korea, vietnam, desert storm, and installations around the world, most often over christmas.  But hope always believed he gained far more from his performances for the uso than he gave.  And he sure did love the troops.  “i hate war with all my guts,” hope told a crowd in 1971, “but i admire the guys with guts enough to fight them when they have to be fought.”

He was also fearless.  War correspondent quentin reynolds wrote in 1943, “one of the generals said hope was a first rate military target since he was worth a division… presumably the nazis appreciated hope's value, since three times they bombed towns while hope was there." but if being a target ever bothered mr. Hope, it never showed…

His humor was universal, his comedic timing impeccable, his self-deprecating jokes a trademark style, and his generosity boundless.  As bob hope said: “if you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”

Well none of these people we honor today have that kind of heart trouble.  In fact, each of these honorees epitomizes the values of bob hope: duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity and selfless dedication.   And each has selflessly contributed an extraordinary amount of time, talent, and resources to enhance the quality of life to service members and their family members serving around the world. 

I think most americans realize just how good our military is.  But i’m not so sure they understand the sacrifice that those who serve have given in the service of their country.  The department of defense has the most important job in america—to defend our country, its constitution, its citizens, our interests and allies, friends and partners,  and our very way of life.  And make no mistake, this is a full time, difficult, and dangerous job.

I like to tell audiences that the cold war ended on may 12, 1989, when president george herbert walker bush stated that containment would no longer be the lens through which defense strategy and the defense program would be judged.  And in the 27 years since, the united states has been at war more than it has been at peace.  There simply is no other period in history where our military has been called upon so much over such an extended length of time.  Moreover, the armed forces that have responded to the nation’s call, time and time again, have all been volunteers, and increasingly married, having to juggle the demands of both service and family. As a marine artilleryman, husband, and father, i understand the burden this has placed on the service men and women in uniform, as well as their families.  

And anybody—from any walk of life—who takes time and effort to ease their burden, or just lift their spirits, is a true american hero in my book.

Which brings me to a particularly distinct group of american heroes, who, through their efforts, embodied the magnificent spirt of bob hope in their kind, generous and heartfelt support to our troops all over the world.  They are: 

American country artist kellie pickler and her husband, american country songwriter kyle jacobs – i think most remember kelley as a contestant on american idol who became a country and television star.  And although you might not immediately recognize kyle, he co-wrote “more than a memory” with garth brooks—the first song ever to debut at number one on billboard’s country singles chart.  Together, they have channeled bob hope’s uso spirit to more than 60 military bases and 2 aircraft carriers.  They even raised money for uso by appearing on “family feud.” 

Retired army col jennifer pritzker – founder of the pritzker military museum & research library in chicago, who has made generous contributions to the development of future army officers and other service members and veterans through the philanthropy of her corporation.  
Marc tarter – who spent the past seven years working as an advocate for seriously wounded explosive ordinance disposal (eod) marines, spending evenings, weekends, and holidays in hospitals assisting and comforting these brave souls.  From one marine to another, let me say semper fi.  Mr tarter could not be here today.  Receiving the award on his behalf is bryan woods.

Retired air force senior master serteant timothy bryant – who as commander of vfw post 3000, he led fundraising efforts that supported outreach to over 12,500 veterans and their families in california.  Due to his efforts, 32 indigent veterans and their families were saved from homelessness.   

Retired coast guard commander michael smith – who has worked for years supporting the mission and important roles of our coast guard men and women in our nation’s security and supporting coast guard families in western michigan.  

And finally, debi demick, who is accepting the award on behalf of the horses helping heroes project, a non-profit that brings together skilled horses and a wonderfully dedicated group of volunteers to help empower and improve the lives of military veterans dealing with the burden of mental, emotional, and physical wounds.
  
In closing, let me quote from one of my heroes, winston churchill, who said: “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  Each of this year’s recipients have selflessly given from their hearts to make for others a richer, more enjoyable life, and in the process they have secured for themselves an extraordinary life full of meaning, purpose, and one that is so much bigger than themselves.   

So, on behalf of secretary carter, myself, all men and women who have served in uniform, past or present, and a grateful nation, let me thank and commend each of you for everything you have done and continue to do to lift the spirits and burdens who those who sacrifice so much for their country. 

I would also like to recognize and commend bob hope’s family, who make this award possible, and to pass on their sincere thanks to each of the recipients. For the very first time, members of the family were unable to attend today's event.  They are attending the opening of a new exhibit in cleveland, ohio-- called "bob hope - an american treasure." cleveland was bob's hometown, growing up there when his family moved from england in 1907.  This is the only reason—and a fitting one indeed—that they are not here with us today.
God bless you all.  

Categories: US DoD Feeds

Remarks on "Sustaining Nuclear Deterrence"

Sun, 09/25/2016 - 23:00
Remarks on "Sustaining Nuclear Deterrence" As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Minot Air Force Base, Minot, North Dakota, Sept. 26, 2016

Thank you.  Please sit down, guys.  Please sit down.  Great to be with you.  Look at what a fabulous, what a magnificent-looking crowd.  Really appreciate it.  And you know, hey, thank you Colonel Brooks.  And is Colonel Conner still here?  There you are – thank you.  Thanks, both of you, for hosting me.

It’s great to be at Minot again.  For me, by the way, I’ll just tell you this right now, I first came here – and I’m embarrassed to say this because this is probably before some of you were even born, but – in 1983.  Long time ago.  So I’ve known this place for a long time, and more on that shortly, because it is a place of central importance to our security – past, present, and long into the future.

I want to acknowledge also – very, very appreciatively – the presence here of North Dakota’s two senators here today, Senator Hoeven and Senator Heitkamp.  Thank you.  Thanks for joining us.  Appreciate it.  I know they need to go back to Washington shortly.  I’m sorry about that, but I do appreciate that as well because they’re going to keep our government going in the meantime, and that’s an essential thing for all of us.  But thank you.  Thanks for being here.  Much appreciated.

And although they couldn’t be here today, I want to thank all the rest of the leadership of the Department of Defense that’s been out here – the Air Force, OSD, the Joint Staff and so forth.

And also, I want to mention, though they’re not here today, my good friends and great colleagues, the Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz and the Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall – superb leaders of that department and essential partners of ours in the nuclear deterrence enterprise. 

And this week, I’m visiting a number of parts of the enterprise.  Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll be at Kirtland, and also at the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons laboratories at Sandia and Los Alamos.  But I wanted to start here, with the airmen of Minot’s 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing, because of how much you, our people, matter to this mission, and how much this mission matters to our country.

I know you’re only a few of the thousands of men and women, military and civilian, who contribute to the nuclear deterrence mission.  And while I’m saying this here to you at Minot, I want all of them to know in the nuclear enterprise – to the operators, to the enablers, to the maintainers, to the planners, to the communicators, to the security forces, the engineers and facilities personnel on DoD bases and installations; the scientists and engineers and technicians in the DoE weapons labs; and everyone else, including those in industry, who help keep our nuclear enterprise safe, secure, and effective – all day, every day.  We’re so grateful to all of them, all of you, for that.

All together, you’re part of something vital, something special.  After all, there’s a lot that goes into this mission – because while deterrence may seem like a simple concept, even an elegant concept, it rests on a complicated, human-intensive and technology-intensive system.

There are a lot of different pieces, starting with the hardware of the triad – the ICBMs, the bombers, and sea-launched ballistic missiles.  There’s also our fleet of dual-capable aircraft, those select fighter jets that extend a nuclear umbrella over our allies.  And then, just as critical, is the network of capabilities that enable nuclear command control, communications and intelligence – satellites, radar systems, ground stations, command posts, control nodes, communications links, and more.  These not only assure command and control, but also help provide us with integrated tactical warning and attack assessment.

As you know, everyone has their role to play.  And while each physical piece is important it’s really the people who make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.  Together, all of this – all of you and all of these capabilities – comprise a system of systems that enables us to see what’s happening in the world, understand what it means, so we’re able to give the one person whom our nation has entrusted with this immense responsibility – our Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States, President Obama – with the best possible picture of information, so that he can make the most well-informed decision possible to keep our country safe, and so that we can carry out that decision with precision, excellence, and reliability.

And the knowledge that every part of this enterprise is working as smoothly as it should be is, what makes you effective – for it’s that which deters.  The confidence that you’re ready to respond is what stops potential adversaries from using nuclear weapons against the United States or our allies in the first place.  It’s the whole point.  So everyone playing their part is tremendously important.  It’s a mission that demands unparalleled excellence – excellence that you define. 

We count on you for that:  America’s nuclear deterrence is the bedrock of our security, and the highest priority mission of the Department of Defense.  Because while it’s a remarkable achievement that in the more than seven decades since 1945, nuclear weapons have not again been used in war, that’s not something we can ever take for granted.  And that’s why today, I want to talk to you about how we’re innovating and investing to sustain that bedrock.

I realize it feels at times that most people don’t often think about your mission – which I know can be frustrating, even though in a way it’s a good thing, because it means you’re doing your job.  It’s a paradox that’s not easily reconciled, but one that I see and I understand.  Because whether they recognize it or not, our entire country, and more depends on you – since we’ve never found a perfect defense against nuclear weapons, only you can truly deter nuclear attacks that would result in enormous devastation. 

That’s one reason why you, and your mission, are never far from my mind – and you never have been, because I’ve been involved in nuclear deterrence issues for over 35 years.  In fact, I was telling the senators on the way out there what I just told you – 1983, first time I came here.  In fact, one of my first defense-related jobs was working on basing options for the MX missile – the one that became the Peacekeeper, and upon which the MK-12A sat – the same missile, that is, whose reentry system now sits atop the Minuteman III here.

Today, you and your mission matter on so many levels.

At a strategic level, of course, you deter large-scale nuclear attack against the United States and our allies.  You help convince potential adversaries that they can’t escalate their way out of a failed conventional aggression.  You assure allies that our extended deterrence guarantees are credible – enabling many of them to forgo developing nuclear weapons themselves, despite the tough strategic environment they find themselves in and the technological ease with which they could develop nuclear weapons.  And if deterrence fails, you provide the President with options to achieve U.S. and allied objectives – a responsibility that I know President Obama takes with the utmost seriousness, as do you – all to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons ever being used in the first place.

And in a broader operational level and a more day-to-day basis, you enable American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to accomplish their conventional missions around the world.  As you know, they’re standing with our NATO allies and standing up to Russia’s aggression in Europe, managing change in the vital Asia-Pacific region, deterring North Korea’s provocations, countering Iran’s malign activities in the Middle East, and helping accelerate ISIL’s certain and lasting defeat.  As they do, you give them confidence that a nuclear attack against our homeland is being deterred – confidence drawn in part from the vigilance you display every day.

And for all Americans, and for that matter, all people all over the world, the bedrock of security you provide has enabled millions and millions to get up in the morning, to go to school, to go to work, to live their lives, to dream their dreams, and to give their children a better future.

I know you’re all aware of how important this mission is.  And your leaders in Washington know it, too – not only me, but also the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Air Force, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Obama – you are all on all of our minds.

That’s important, because in today’s security environment – one that’s dramatically different from the last generation, and certainly the generation before that – we face a nuclear landscape that continues to pose challenges, and that continues to evolve – in some ways less predictably than during the Cold War – even though many around the world, and even some in the United States, are stuck in the Cold War in their thinking.

One way the nuclear landscape has changed:  we didn’t build new types of nuclear weapons or delivery systems for the last 25 years, but others did.  At the same time, in another part of the landscape, our allies in Asia, the Middle East, and NATO did not.  And so we must continue to sustain our deterrence.

Now, Russia has long been a nuclear power, but Moscow’s recent saber-rattling and building of new nuclear weapons systems raises serious questions about its leader’s commitment to strategic stability, their regard for long-established abhorrence of using nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution that Cold War-era leaders showed with respect to brandishing nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations underscore that a diverse and dynamic spectrum of nuclear threats still exists.  So our deterrence must be credible, and extended to our allies in the region.  It starts with the umbrella of deterrence you provide from Minot, supporting conventional forces like our air assets and our troops standing guard 24/7 on the Korean Peninsula to deter attack against our allies.  It’s also why we continue to build more robust ballistic missile defenses oriented toward the North Korean threat – deploying Ground-Based Interceptors in Alaska and California, and also agreeing with our Korean allies to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in the Republic of Korea.  And we back all of that up with the commitment that any attack on America or our allies will not only be defeated, but that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an overwhelming and effective response.

Russia and North Korea are just two countries – though very different ones – that stand out in this evolving nuclear landscape.  And there are others.  India, for example, has generally shown responsible behavior with its nuclear technology.  China also conducts itself professionally in the nuclear arena, despite growing its arsenal in both quality and quantity.  In Iran, their nuclear aspirations have been constrained and transparency over their activities increased by last year’s nuclear accord, which, as long as it continues to be implemented, will verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  And the last example I’ll cite is Pakistan, where nuclear weapons are entangled in a history of tension, and while they’re not a threat to the United States directly, we work with Pakistan to ensure stability.

It’s also important to note where there are not nuclear weapons.  That is, where successful nuclear stability, stable alliances, and non-proliferation and arms control efforts – such as President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summits and the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program that I worked on once upon a time in the 1990s – have prevented the spread of nuclear weapons, prevented dangers like loose nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union from becoming threats, and made the prospect of nuclear terrorism more remote, which is an agenda all great powers should embrace.  Because of these efforts, there are many places all around the world where nuclear weapons might have spread, but have not.

Now, despite what has changed since the end of the Cold War, the nature of nuclear deterrence has not changed.  Even in 2016, deterrence still depends on perception – what potential adversaries see, and therefore believe, about our will and ability to act.  This means that as their perceptions shift, so must our strategy and our actions.  Indeed, how we deter cannot be static; rather, it must adapt as threats evolve, while continuing to preserve strategic stability – reinforcing nuclear restraint, rather than inviting competition or attack.  That’s important, because it illustrates how strong deterrence doesn’t lower the threshold for nuclear war – instead, it raises it.

Today, however, it’s a sobering fact that the most likely use of nuclear weapons is not the massive ‘nuclear exchange’ of the classic Cold War-type, but rather the unwise resort to smaller but still unprecedentedly terrible attacks, for example by Russia or North Korea, to try to coerce a conventionally superior opponent to back off or abandon an ally during a crisis.  We cannot allow that to happen, which is why we’re working with our allies in both regions to innovate and operate in new ways that sustain deterrence, and continue to preserve strategic stability.

Across the Atlantic, we’re refreshing NATO’s nuclear playbook – to better integrate conventional and nuclear deterrence, to ensure we plan and train like we’d fight, and to deter Russia from thinking it can benefit from nuclear use in a conflict with NATO – from trying to “escalate to de-escalate,” as some there call it.  Now, obviously, we do not seek such a conflict to begin with; rather, we seek to prevent one.  And by having our dual-capable aircraft, B-61 bombs, and air-launched cruise missiles postured as credible response options – options intended to deter – we make limited use of nuclear weapons by others less likely.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, we engage in formal deterrence dialogues with our allies in Japan and the Republic of Korea, to ensure we’re poised to address nuclear deterrence challenges in Asia.  And you should know that the work you do and the capabilities you provide are a common topic in these conversations, because they play a critical role in deterring a nuclear attack on these allies.  That’s also why our three countries together held a trilateral ballistic missile warning exercise this past June – to continue sustaining deterrence.

And here in the United States, we’re sustaining deterrence by taking steps to ensure that all three legs of our nuclear triad do not age into obsolescence.  This is part of our government’s policy, which President Obama made clear in Prague in 2009 when he said that, and I quote, “as long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies.”  That commitment was reiterated when the President released his 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, when he issued his 2013 Nuclear Employment Guidance, and it’s been reflected in every one of the defense budgets that the President has submitted to Congress over the last seven-and-a-half years – including his latest budget, for fiscal year 2017, which we announced in January – February.

In this respect we’re now beginning the process of correcting decades of underinvestment in nuclear deterrence – and I do mean decades, because it dates back to the end of the Cold War, when funding for the nuclear enterprise dropped dramatically.  Over the last 25 years since then, we only made modest investments in basic sustainment and operations.  And it turned out that wasn’t enough, because ,as we now know too well, it meant that we had to rely unreasonably on talented people like you – and around DoD and the Department of Energy, for that matter – to help keep it going as it aged.  So that’s why we’re investing now not only to sustain the triad, but also to ensure you have the resources you need, the opportunities to advance your career, and the management structure and climate to empower you for success.

For 2017, our budget invests a total of $19 billion in the nuclear enterprise.  That’s part of $108 billion we plan to invest over the next five years to sustain and recapitalize the nuclear force and associated strategic command, control communications and intelligence systems – ranging from increased funding for manpower, equipment, vehicles, and maintenance to technological efforts that will help sustain our bomber fleet, and more.

As you know, these investments reflect how we’re continuing to implement recommendations from the 2014 Nuclear Enterprise Reviews, which recognize that our country had underinvested in an aging force.  As a result, we’ve invested about $10 billion over the last two years to make improvements.  Here at Minot, I know that’s most recently meant a newly repaired runway, expanded childcare options, and fitness centers open 24/7.  It’s created new assignment incentive pay and special assignment duty pay for military personnel.  It’s helped increase locality pay rates for civilians.  And, importantly, it reflects how we’re taking steps to replace the helicopters that help ensure that our ICBMs are secure.

Additionally, the President’s budget also fully funds the first stages of our plans to ensure that the capabilities required to sustain nuclear deterrence don’t become obsolete.  This includes: replacing old ICBMs with new ones that will be less expensive to maintain; keeping our strategic bombers effective in the face of more advanced air defense systems, in part by replacing our aging air-launched cruise missile with a more effective long-range standoff weapon; replacing the F-16s in our dual-capable aircraft fleet with F-35s and the B61-12 gravity bomb; and building replacements for our Ohio class ballistic missile submarines.

There are many reasons why this is important, and for that reason I’m confident the nation will make the right investments in the coming years.

First, if we don’t replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more, and become unsafe, unreliable, and ineffective.  The fact is, most of our nuclear weapon delivery systems have already been extended decades beyond their original expected service lives.  So it’s not a choice between replacing these platforms or keeping them; it’s really a choice between replacing them or losing them.  That would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter, which we can’t afford in today’s volatile security environment.

Second, while these investments are usually referred to simply as nuclear “modernization,” that’s only true in the sense of sustaining deterrence.  None of these investments is intended to change the nature of deterrence or how it works; after all, no one can do that.  And not only are they not intended to stimulate competition from anyone else; we know they aren’t having that effect, because the evidence is to the contrary.  After all, as I said earlier, we didn’t build anything new for the last 25 years, but others did – including Russia, North Korea, China, India, Pakistan, and, for a period of time, Iran – while our allies around the world – in Asia, the Middle East, and NATO – did not.  And our allies are not creating new types of nuclear weapons, either; that, some nations are unfortunately doing.  So this is about maintaining deterrence in a world very different from the Cold War – as older systems become less effective, we’re making sure we continue to preserve strategic stability. 

Doing this will cost money, of course, but most people don’t realize that funding for the nuclear enterprise, even then, is a relatively small percentage of total defense funding – and even as we replace aging platforms, we don’t expect that fact to change.

In the end, though, this is about maintaining the bedrock of our security.  And after too many years of not investing enough, it’s an investment that we as a nation have to make, because it’s critical to sustaining nuclear deterrence in the 21st century.

Of course, even as we invest to ensure this mission has the capabilities to succeed, we’ll also keep investing to ensure it has to people to succeed, and to make sure you succeed.  Because our deterrence isn’t credible unless we have the right people – people like you, people we know we can count on – who’re manning, equipping, operating, securing, and supporting our nuclear enterprise – and not only today, but in the future as well.

Indeed, even as we all of course would wish to live in a world without nuclear weapons, it’s also true – something President Obama has noted many times – that we may not realize that goal within our lifetimes.  And unfortunately, given what we see in today’s security environment, it’s also likely that our children, and their children, will probably have to live in a world where nuclear weapons exist.  This means that what you do – ensuring safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrence for as long as nuclear weapons exist in the world – will continue to be important for the defense of our nation for a long time to come.  And it means that your career fields will continue to need to attract, and retain, the most talented men and women American will have to offer in future generations – people like you.  As you know, we don’t let just anybody do this job – and our force of the future, including our nuclear force of the future, will need people as excellent as you.

That’s why I have something very important to ask of you and your fellow servicemembers who make up the nuclear enterprise and make it work:  that you keep carrying out your mission with the excellence our nation has long been able to count on from those entrusted with these weapons – excellence that is unparalleled.  In turn, we, as your leaders, will ensure you have the support and the systems you need to do so.

I want to close by saying that you should be proud of what you do every day for our country – and do know how proud I am of you.  Because you’re doing one of the noblest things that a person can do with their life, which is to help defend our country and make a better world for our children.  And that’s what this enterprise is all about.

When I was coming up as a physicist, the generation that trained me had worked on the Manhattan Project.  Their legacy was one of ensuring effective capabilities and credible deterrence, but never recklessness – always having immense respect for the tremendous power that nuclear weapons can unleash, and therefore having the determination to deter, so that they will never be used.

As a young man, these were my mentors, and they helped me realize that I didn’t have to choose between strengthening nuclear deterrence or working toward a world where such deterrence would no longer be necessary – that instead, I could do both.  And ever since, even as I contributed to the advancement of weapons systems like the MX missile and other parts of our nuclear triad, I also participated in arms control efforts, non-proliferation initiatives, and helped lead the Nunn-Lugar program that secured nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union – Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus – preventing those potential dangers from becoming threats to our country, our world, and our fellow human beings.

Today, you are the heirs to that great legacy that my generation inherited.  And it’s your task to not only uphold that legacy, but also to pass it on to those who will come after you.

Your work here at Minot, your service, and your daily sacrifices – not to mention those of your families – are never lost on me.  And for what you do, and for the excellence and quiet professionalism with which you do it, you will forever have my, and our nation’s, profound gratitude.

Thanks again.

Categories: US DoD Feeds