FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Dec. 6, 2012) -- Home of the airborne and special operations, Fort Bragg is known as the center of the Army universe, which draws many interested visitors.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton B. Carter visited Fort Bragg, Nov. 29, to meet with the unit commanders and Soldiers who make the installation so unique and are ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment's notice.

The tour gave Dr. Carter a chance to see some of the changes that are taking place across the Army and how they are being incorporated.

While visiting the 82nd Airborne Division, the Advance Airborne School demonstrated the changes from the T-10D Parachute to the new T-11model. The T-10D parachute has been standardized since the early 1950's and used successfully since with relatively few modifications. Marking a historic change, the Army is transitioning to the T-11 canopy, which has an increased inflated diameter in surface area to reduce the opening shock and canopy oscillation, reducing Paratrooper injury rate by 75 percent.

"As a jumpmaster, it's rewarding to see people in decision-making positions taking an interest in the airborne community," said Sgt. 1st Class Walter Veazey, an instructor at the Advanced Airborne School. "I hope that Dr. Carter can see the importance of continued airborne operation and its strategic use in worldwide operations."

A few individuals had the opportunity to meet Dr. Carter and know that their hard work does not go unseen.

Dr. Carter also recognized 26 Soldiers and Paratroopers for various achievements while deployed to Afghanistan, providing relief support for Hurricane Sandy, and outstanding duty performance.

"It meant a lot to be recognized and hear what is going to happen in the future in protecting America," said Spc. Jamie Newman, a communications specialist for Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Dr. Carter complimented the awardees on continuously adapting to the various challenges and changes that have faced the Army during this time of war.

"You are at the center of the new strategy because of that adaptability," said Carter.

Dr. Carter also expressed his gratitude to the family members who continue to support their uniformed loved ones.

"Tell your families that you were thanked today by your country for what you do," said Carter. "We know that they're a part of your success and from Secretary Panetta and all of us, thank them for supporting you, for what you do, for all of us."