Hagel Observes Full-Spectrum National Training Center Exercise

Defense secretary visits Fort Irwin
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel observes a training scenario at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, Nov. 16, 2014. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt/Defense Imagery Management Operations Center)

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday lauded training efforts at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, where he addressed troops and observed a "full-spectrum" war exercise involving about 4,700 soldiers preparing for deployments to the Middle East.

The training on the 1,200-square-mile site included exercises in traditional tactics, political leader and citizen interactions, and cyberattacks.

Importance of Training

"It is critically important that the kind of training you're getting here continue to be refined, because ... it is training that prepares you, that keeps you ready," Hagel said. "It is training that keeps you on the cutting edge of what's coming next."

Noting that the "unpredictable is the predictable," Hagel championed a proactive approach to threats and challenges. He described joint efforts among Army, Navy and Air Force special operations forces as "important and essential" to the U.S. military's future. He lauded the comprehensive training for transcending the parameters of basic soldiering with its inclusion of understanding the culture and appeal of radicalism to insurgents.

"You've got to know a little something more about the environment that you're going into -- some of the history, some of the culture, some of the human dimensions that always play out in any contest, and in any conflict," he said.

Troops Will Gain Greater Training Control

Hagel noted the "impressive" level of coordination he observed and vowed to give commanders and their troops more latitude and flexibility in preparing for current and future challenges.

"You have to be mayors of small towns. You have to be sewer commissioners. You have to be architects," he said. "And you have to be soldiers."

Hagel reminded the troops that they serve as role models for society and future generations of service members.

"What you do is not just what you do here or on the battlefield or anywhere else you go," Hagel said. "But you represent as proud a tradition and as important a job as there is in this country."

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