Carter Hears Troops’ Concerns, Vows to Take Action
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Feb. 23, 2012 Warfighters’ needs served as the driving force for Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter today as he met with two separate groups to receive feedback on weapons, equipment and training.
“I’m interested in what you’re interested in,” Carter said. “I’m interested in what you see or think would be useful for me … to know. We’re back there for you, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Carter met with soldiers at Kandahar Airfield from Combined Joint Task Force 82nd Airborne Division and listened to their concerns following an earlier sit-down with troops from the 1st Armored Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
“We don’t do anything [else] at the Pentagon except support you,” he said. “So that’s our job, and if there is something that isn’t right or something that you see and you think that we can and should address, … that’s the purpose of our visit here.”
The soldiers discussed a wide array of topics such as the use of female engagement teams, biometrics, and language and cultural awareness training. The timing of receiving equipment was another prominent example.
The deputy defense secretary admitted “we are not perfect in Washington,” but he reassured the troops he would not ignore their feedback.
“We’re taking notes to take action,” Carter said. “I’m nothing if not dogged on following up. If you say something, we will follow up on it.”
Carter praised the fighting forces for their “admirable” efforts in Afghanistan as the situation is “turning the corner.”
“It’s occurring right now, right here, and everybody knows that and appreciates it,” he said. “It’s a big deal, and it’s a historic achievement you all have done here with your part.
“So we watch it from Washington with tremendous admiration and confidence,” Carter continued. “And you have quite a ways to go still. You have a whole season to get through. It’s going to be a very busy and important year.”
This year has been different from any year in the past, the deputy defense secretary noted.
“You can see the progress made. You can see where we can get this situation and leave it with the Afghans,” he said. “It’s so hopeful, and it’s such a tribute to what each and every one of you is doing here – whatever your specialty.”
Carter expressed gratitude on behalf of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to all the service members for their hard work.
“Thanks for what you all are doing out here,” he said. “It means so much. The whole situation here is turning a corner, and it wouldn’t happen without you and what you’re doing.”