SecDef visits JTF Carson
July 2, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. (June 28, 2013) -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with Soldiers from Joint Task Force Carson during an open forum at Manhart Field, June 28, as part of visits to local area installations.
The Defense secretary addressed pressing issues for many Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians including downsizing the Army and furloughs.
Hagel said an announcement was made June 25 by Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno to lower the number of units during the next few years through the consolidation of brigade combat teams.
He added that the consolidation affects Fort Carson, because through 2017, the installation's manpower will be adjusted.
He also addressed concerns about furloughs, saying they are hard on everyone, and when it came to the decision, he gave it his utmost attention.
"I think you know that your (leaders) have been involved in this process, trying to figure out ways that we can comply with the law and realities of the budget that we're living with, without hurting our force structure, our people, our readiness and protecting our combat power," said Hagel.
Hagel also thanked 4th Infantry Division Soldiers for their support fighting the fires in Colorado.
"I want to acknowledge the work of so many of you who have been involved in some way with fighting these fires out here; your work has been spectacular," he said. "It has gained recognition and thanks from every corner, and I know the people of Colorado are grateful, the people of our country are grateful, and we're very proud in the Department of Defense for what you did and what you continue to do."
Following his remarks, Hagel answered questions from Soldiers.
In response to a question about Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention, Hagel said he feels sexual harassment is a scourge on the Army. He added that it has to stop, but it can't stop without the Soldiers, because "it gets fixed within the fabric of the institution, and you are the fabric."
In regards to a Soldier's concern about prioritizing between proper training and outdated equipment, Hagel said, "I don't think it's a choice, I don't think you can choose between education and training versus modernization of equipment; you have to have them both.
"You have to start with people. If you don't have quality people, who are trained, educated, motivated and well-led, it won't make any difference what kind of equipment they are given," Hagel added. "But we also need to make sure that we stay on the cutting edge of modernization of our weapons."
Soldiers who voiced their concerns to the secretary of Defense said they were impressed with the answers they received.
"I voiced my concern about sexual harassment and assault, because it's a major topic in the Army," said Pfc. Ernesto Sotelo, preventive medicine specialist, Company B, 10th Combat Support Hospital. "It was an honor to be able to talk to the secretary of Defense; he seems very charismatic and an empathetic person, and I really think he cares about helping the Soldiers."
Spc. Meng Li, cavalry scout, Troop C, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., who asked about Army education, training and equipment, echoed his satisfaction with the answer he received.
"He gave a very genuine answer; he believes that we should balance education and equipment," said Li. "It was an honor. I come from a different background, and I believe that talking to someone who has achieved so much is an honor, it (was) a great opportunity."