WASHINGTON — The U.S. Marines at Morón Air Base in Spain stand at the cutting edge of the Defense Department's strategic transition that's designed to prepare all service members to deal with a full spectrum of threats, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during a troop talk at the air base.
The secretary is on a five-day trip to Europe for the NATO Defense Ministerial Conference in Brussels, in Belgium, and to meet with his counterparts in Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. His troop talk at Morón marked his second day of the trip.
The secretary said DoD's strategic transition follows 14 hard years in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Marines now at Morón were deployed and performed in a spectacular manner in every way as part of U.S. forces.
"But it was all consuming," he said, adding that while what the future holds is unknown, what does exist presents a broad span of challenges.
Strategic Transition Has Broad Range
The strategic transition "ranges all the way from high-end opponents down to terrorists, people who are threatening our fellow Americans doing [the] work of our country out here in the region, which is one of your principle missions," Carter said.
Under key military leaders and with U.S. full support, he said, "We are asking you now to make that strategic transition."
U.S. service members spent a lot of hard years in Iraq and Afghanistan and performed spectacularly well, Carter said.
"But it also taught the American people … what it's all about, what you guys do, how much you sacrifice, how much your family sacrificed, and how much it means," he added.
U.S. Partnership With Spain
Through a joint Spanish-U.S. assault team, the Marines at Morón represent the value of the United States' long-standing friendship with countries such as Spain, the secretary noted.
The United States and Spain are long-term allies in a strong and principled partnership that's continued by U.S. troops' presence, Carter said.
"But the main thing we share [is] a way of looking at the world. We share values, we share principles," he added.
The United States is proud of its service members and grateful for what they do for the nation to protect its people, the secretary said.
And, he added, the global community "looks to us for so much in the way of peace and security, and to give their children a better life. And you do that."