WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2016 —
What every service member is doing helps the Defense Department meet today’s challenges while remaining ready for the future, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Marines at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California today.
After brief remarks, the secretary took questions from the Marines in attendance and afterward greeted each one individually. Carter is on the first day of a multiday trip focusing on warfighter readiness, training and equipment that will also take him to Texas and Florida in the coming days.
At the combat center, the defense secretary observed the final portion of Integrated Training Exercise 1-17, a 28-day exercise that involved the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Known as the “Darkhorse” battalion, the unit has been designated as the Corps’ experimental force by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller. The exercise involves a series of progressive live-fire exercises that assesses the ability and adaptability of a force of more than 3,500 Marines and sailors.
No Stronger Military
“You’re honing our unrivaled military edge,” Carter said in his prepared remarks. “No one is stronger [or] more agile. It’s a fact every American ought to be proud of, but it’s not a birthright.”
It is thanks to military exercises such as the one he viewed today, he told the audience, and the work the nation’s Marines do every day that gets them ready for “real missions.”
Those missions involve several global challenges, such as the rebalance of the U.S. military to the Asia-Pacific region, and the U.S. led-coalition campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq and Syria and anywhere around the globe where the terrorist organization might surface.
Return To Full-spectrum Readiness
“As you know, we’re reinvigorating training across the force to return to full-spectrum readiness,” the secretary said. “As I saw today, Twentynine Palms is leading the way.”
DoD leaders are working in Washington to get the right investments and a defense budget that supports its service members and provides certainty, while also ensuring the U.S. military remains the “finest fighting force the world has ever known,” he said.
Next week is Thanksgiving, the secretary said, “and I want you and your families to know how thankful I am for all you and your families do for all of us.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)