Deputy Defense Secretary Visits Troops in Djibouti
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, May 11, 2013, on his way to Afghanistan and met with service members to personally thank them for their service.
"The main thing I want to do is thank you," Carter said to about 150 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in Camp Lemonnier's recreation center. "We appreciate every day what you do here. It's incredibly important to our country; it's incredibly important to the world."
Describing how the Department of Defense is turning the corner from an era in Iraq and Afghanistan to the threats and opportunities that define the U.S.' future, Carter pointed out that Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa's mission plays a key role.
"We need to look to the challenges and opportunities that will define our future," the deputy defense secretary said. "You are central to our strategy."
Prior to meeting with U.S. troops at Camp Lemonnier, Carter met with Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Djibouti City, Djibouti. Overall, Minister Youssouf and Deputy Secretary Carter discussed ways to strengthen and enhance the close partnership between Djibouti and the U.S. -- and its two militaries. In addition, Youssouf and Carter talked about the two countries' mutual commitment to countering the threat of violent extremism and strengthening the success of the African Union Mission in Somalia.
During the bilateral meeting, Carter affirmed DOD would continue to emphasize its strategic relationship with Djibouti. As a sign of this partnership, the minister and deputy defense secretary agreed to establish a U.S.-Djibouti bilateral strategic and defense forum to provide a formal and enduring structure for the discussion and coordination of issues of mutual concern between the two nations - such as counter-terrorism.
"We can't let up," Carter said. "As long as we are charged with providing security, counter-terrorism will need to be part of what we do."
With Camp Lemonnier serving as the hub for activities throughout the combined joint operations area in East Africa, the deputy defense secretary emphasized the service members at Camp Lemonnier are planting the seeds for the long-term future of Africa.
"We count on you to hold everything together," said Carter before coining each of the service members present, "and you do that so admirably."
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