Remarks by Secretary Carter in a "Fireside Chat" at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Hello everyone. What a fantastic looking audience you are and how proud I am of you. More about that in a minute. Let me thank General Caslen, old friend. Done a lot together. He's done a very great deal for our country and our security and our Army.


And Bob, thanks. And thanks for that introduction. And thanks to General Holland also, for welcoming me here today. Appreciate it general.

And to all of you, first of all, thank you. Thank you for joining our family, our mission. The profession that you represent, you're doing with your lives the noblest thing that you can do, which is to protect our people and make a better world for our children.

SEC. CARTER: That's why you're here. That's why you're here, that's why I'm here, that's why everybody in our magnificent Department of Defense is there, because we wake up every morning with that mission in mind.

And it feels good, it feels good to be part of something bigger than yourself. And it's hard work, but it's the most important and noble thing you could be doing with your lives. So I want you know that you should be proud of yourselves. I, as the Secretary of Defense, am incredibly proud of you.

I can't tell you what it's like to be able to go out and talk to public audiences in the United States and say just look at how magnificent are the people who make up our armed forces and to see in their eyes the tremendous pride that they have in you. And they don't pay attention to what you do every day, and in a way, that's the flip side of being in the business of protection, which is the better you do it, the less people have to think about it. That's the whole point. But in their hearts, they know you're there, they know they can count on you.

Pretty soon, you'll be joining that noble mission with all of your time and you'll also be assuming the awesome responsibility that goes with it, the responsibility of leadership and the responsibility of holding in your hands the security of so many in America and around the world.

Yesterday's attacks in Brussels were a grim reminder of how serious are the dangers we face, how dangerous -- the dangers that civilization and our country face, challenges of this complex world. Our thoughts and prayers are -- I know yours are -- with all of those who were affected by this tragedy, who include, particularly worth noting, a U.S. military family that was affected by these attacks.

And I, in that connection, want to assure you -- and soon you'll be doing this with me -- that we do everything we can to help protect these families, and we will to help this family in this instance and to protect our service members, wherever they are, and their families, protect them as they protect us.

In the face of these acts of terrorism, the United States stands strongly in solidarity with our ally, Belgium. Brussels is an international city. The host to NATO, to the European Union, to great institutions that represent people working together for a better future, and the opposite of what the people who conducted this attack represent and stand for. So together with them, we must and we will continue to do everything we can to protect our homeland and defeat terrorists wherever they threaten us. No attack, no attack, can shake our resolve to accelerate the defeat of ISIL.

SEC. CARTER: I know that yesterday's news only galvanizes our determination -- yours too -- to serve our nation and join those who came before you in this mission of defending our people and the values we share.
So before I get to your questions, I want to take some time to talk about the strategic landscape as we see it from the Pentagon, me and your Army leadership.

And after that, take a moment to discuss several of the lessons that I hope you'll carry with you from this extraordinary institution here at West Point, to the great challenges that are going to confront you in your career.

The Army, like our entire joint force, is in the process of turning a corner from an era when we were, and I was very much a part of this, very singularly focused upon our counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had to be. We did an excellent job. Military execution was superb.

And we're now entering a different strategic era. And I'm asking the Army and our military to change and evolve. And it is. And as we look out, the leadership of the department, your senior leaders, we see no fewer than five challenges, big challenges, evolving challenges. And these are, namely, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorism. We don't have the luxury of choice among them. We need to deal with them all.

Two of them represent in a way a return to great power competition. One is in Europe, where we're taking a strong and balanced approach to deterring Russian aggression -- the kind we saw in Ukraine. We haven't had to focus on that very much for the last quarter century since the Soviet Union ended, the Berlin wall came down, but now we do.

Second challenge is in the Asia-Pacific region. The single most consequential region to America's future because it's half of where humanity lives and where half of economic activity on the planet is. And that's only growing. And there, China is rising, which is fine, but behaving aggressively, which is not.

Meanwhile, two other longstanding challenges pose specific threats in specific regions. North Korea is one. And that's why, and I know some of you will be going there -- not North Korea, going to South Korea shortly. A little slip there.

(LAUGHTER)

But that -- that's the very reason why, as they say over there and you'll soon say if you go there, the slogan is to be ready to fight tonight. It's not what we want, but to deter, we have to be ready.

And the other is Iran, because while the nuclear accord, which was reached last year on nuclear weapons, is a good deal in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, we must still deter Iranian aggression, counter its malign influence in the region, and continue standing by and standing up for our friends and allies in the region.

And then the fifth challenge, very different from the other four and critically important, is our ongoing fight against terrorism, and especially ISIL. We're accelerating our campaign against ISIL, most immediately in Iraq and Syria. That's where the parent tumor is of this cancer.

SEC. CARTER: And we need to defeat it there. That is necessary, not sufficient. We need to defeat it in other places as well where it's metastasizing, like North Africa, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

And make no mistake, we will defeat ISIL. I'm completely confident in it. We want to get it done as soon as we can. But we will destroy ISIL. But we don't have the luxury, as I said, of choosing among these five challenges. We have to deal with them all and you're part of our plan to do so.

The Army is transitioning, as I said, to full-spectrum readiness. The force you lead is stronger than ever. It's capable of more kinds of operation than ever. To deter and win in a conflict, potential enemies have to know that we will dominate them. Your service will -- and I hope it does -- span many decades.

A future chief of staff of the Army, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may very well be in this room, 10 years, 20 years from now, new challenges will almost certainly arise.

To help you win now and to deal with that complex and uncertain future, you -- the world may change, but I think that you'll find that there are four things that will remain constant, that I predict will remain constant for you. I want you to keep it in your mind.

The first is this. Our primary mission will always be the defense of our country and our people. And I sit with the president in the situation room. We're always focused on America's national interests, because that's what matters most.

And while all the capabilities and capacity of our fantastic institution are enormous and immense, what we commit ourselves to is something we think about very carefully. We also recognize, at the same time, that protecting American interests often means leading by example.

As the United -- ever since the graduates of this institution led the United States to victory in World War II, America has stood as the world's foremost leader, partner and underwriter of stability in every region of the world. It is a mantle we embraced, again, following the end of the Cold War and one that continues today to the great benefit of our nation and also the global community.

The positive and enduring partnerships the United States has cultivated with other nations around the world are built on our values. They reflect the way we conduct ourselves. Nations know what we stand for. They know how we do things and why.

They know we treat them as equals, but we take their interests into account. That creates opportunities to defend American interests wherever and whenever necessary. When I travel around the world, the -- what I hear always from foreign leaders is how much they like working with you.

You're capable, competent, like no other military. But you represent values that they like. They want to work with you and you conduct yourselves in a way that is attractive to them. This is important because in order to do the business of protecting the United States, we want others to help in that mission of creating a better world.

SEC. CARTER: We don't want to have to do everything ourselves.

So it's important that you have those values and that they like working with you. And if you think about it, our enemies don't have any friends. We have all the friends and allies. And that's because of who you are and what you represent, as well as how good you are.

So whether your responsibilities take you to train local, capable forces fighting ISIL in Iraq, say, which is what the 101st is doing in Baghdad, or strengthening our posture in the Asia Pacific with the Stryker Brigade in the Philippines, take another example. You'll see many opportunities where the U.S. military can make a difference around the world.

I want your good ideas. Our nation needs your good ideas. When you bring them forward -- and this is important -- always be able to explain how they benefit America's interests, and by extension the American people.

Another constant, and one that has echoed through the generations is what makes our military great is our people. It was a former cadet, Dwight Eisenhower, who said, "Guns and tanks and planes are nothing unless there's a solid spirit and a solid heart."
That lesson was reinforced for me several weeks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. I was there -- I met with two soldiers -- Sergeant First Class Hastings and Sergeant Campbell. Both were seriously wounded in Afghanistan while accompanying Afghan forces, one in a close-grenade exchange with the Taliban; the other after taking five shots, three to the SAPI and two to the body.

I spoke to them in that hangar. They were each driven by -- and you hear this again and again, and you all have probably heard it as well -- by a single goal, which was getting back to their unit, back in the fight. So don't ever forget the caliber of the soldiers you will lead as a brand-new second lieutenant.

Don't ever forget the quality of that experience of the NCOs under your command. Don't ever forget the families of every soldier, the sacrifices they make. And regardless of what branch you've selected or will select in the future, don't ever forget that there are soldiers like Sergeants Hastings and Campbell who count on you, too, to do your utmost.

My first, highest commitment as secretary of defense really is to our people. We have other things that make our military great, but it's our people that make it the finest fighting force the world has ever known. It is because of that commitment that I am committed to building what I'm calling the force of the future.

In the future, we have to continue to recruit and retain the very best talent for future generations. We're an all-volunteer force. We like it that way. We want to pick the members of the military, not have them given to us. But we have to compete for them. And I recognize that.

SEC. CARTER: That is, by the way, the reason why we're opening all combat positions to women. It provides them an opportunity. But the real point from my perspective is it provides us the opportunity -- the opportunity to have access to another half of our population who can meet the standards for those branches.

It's important. We have to compete for good people everywhere for an all-volunteer force, and that's a critical part of our military edge. And everyone should understand this need and my commitment to it. As you go through the ranks and make sure the younger generation is coming in that is good -- is as good as you, as good as the ones you see to your left and right today, that needs to be true tomorrow, 10 years from now, 20 years from now. I feel that responsibility. You will soon have that same responsibility.

So when you select and assign people, remember that experience, courage on their part, courage for their part to speak up, the diversity of the experiences they've had and that they represent, all of that will make whole team stronger. That's a lesson as old as the Army itself and one that actually echoes across this campus I was learning this morning. From the memorial to Margaret Corbin, who kept her cannon firing to preserve the Continental Army, to the bust of Henry O. Flipper, born a slave and graduated an officer, to the crest of the class of 1980, where men and women served together -- 1980 -- for the first time with pride and excellence here.

I just came from lunch with a dozen cadets who have branched infantry, including the first women to do so. And just remember that it's not only them who are making history, it's you as an institution that are doing so. First in training and then battle, you'll demonstrate that the women who recently graduated from ranger school, who've accompanies our special operations forces and led convoys in combat and flown helicopter for the past 15 years are not just a news story, they're a vital part of our ability to defend our country.

Next, I want you to remember that our nation's defense rests in being able to find solutions to seemingly intractable problems. In any situation, you will encounter unexpected challenges that have to be solved at a moment's notice. I can't tell you what they are now. I've told you what we're facing today. I can't tell you with confidence what we'll be facing in the future. You have to have -- I want you to have the courage to accept risk, to solve those problems, and the wisdom to determine when a risk becomes a blind gamble.

You're responsible for the lives of your soldiers and for accomplishing your mission. That's the burden of command. Let me give you a recent example from a West Point graduate, and that's Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, who's serving as our coalition commander in Iraq. When he got there last year, he found a fractured Iraqi army on the defensive, one that was trained for a narrow set of threats that didn't include the kind of unconventional military tactics that the enemy ISIL was using, or even their conventional tactics that were being used effectively to stymie the Iraqi forces in the field.


Providing the same training over and over again, that same training wouldn't accomplish the mission. General MacFarlane saw this as an opportunity to provide advanced training and engineering capabilities to effectively change the way the Iraqi army operated. All of you, like Sean, are capable of this.

SEC. CARTER: I'm proud to say we saw the results of this in December, when the Army re-took Ramadi, reaching the Euphrates, conducting combined arms breaching, and ultimately clearing the city with the assistance that we provided.

When you plan, rehearse and execute your missions, you must always be willing to reevaluate the situation and take a new course of action when the situation demands it. In order to do that, you have got to be open to new ideas.

At the Pentagon, I've made it a priority at all levels that to think, as I say, outside of our five-sided box, to be open to new ways of thinking, operating and innovating. It's the only way to be the best in a competitive world.

You're warriors first, but as I saw today in the Physics lab, the Counterterrorism Center, your Cyber Center, you're also scientists, political scientists and so much more. Every day, you crack the code in some way. And we need you to continue to do so.

This should be a lesson for our enemies. Never underestimate the ingenuity of the American soldier. We need to maintain that advantage, forever. That's why as part of the Force of the Future Initiative, we're building greater opportunities, as you advance through the ranks, for you to work in industries, advanced industries outside of DOD, just for a time.

Partner with tech companies and get out and learn enough about how the rest of the world works, while continuing to achieve the breakthroughs and uphold the profession of arms that makes the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

And finally, I want to discuss with you the importance of being a leader of character. Character is the difference between George Washington -- remembered on this campus with that iconic, equestrian statute -- and Benedict Arnold, recalled with an unnamed plaque in the old chapel.

Both were gifted warriors of great, technical skills. But only one had the strength of character to -- in the words of the Cadet prayer, "choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong." You don't know when, where or how. You may not even know it at the time, but your character will be tested against these words. And your reaction will be a reflection of your true self.

In my time working with some of the finest alumni of this institution, I've observed that combat doesn't as much build character as it does reveal it. There's a big world out there when we're a great nation with great responsibilities and we stand on the foundation of character that both you and this institution provide around the world.

Those of you who will be commissioned this spring are about to join the noblest profession there is -- a profession that will have you waking up every day to help defend this country and make a better world. As you embark on this, know that our nation is 100 percent behind you. I'm 1,000 percent behind you, although we know that's not really possible. But you know what I mean.

We know that you're -- what you're putting into this, we know what you'll sacrifice. And we know what you're able to achieve. There's nothing that we appreciate more. There's nothing that makes me prouder to be where I am than to look out and to be with you.

Thanks for having me. Today I look forward to answering some of your questions.

(APPLAUSE)

STAFF: Thank you sir.

SEC. CARTER: Oh. Thank you.

STAFF: All right sir. Thank you for those remarks. And thank you for spending time with us.

SEC. CARTER: Sure.

STAFF: I think we have a few minutes for some questions, but before we turn it over to the corps, (inaudible) and I were just going to ask you a couple of questions to get things started.

SEC. CARTER: Okay.

STAFF: So (inaudible) do you want to start?

Q: Thank you, (inaudible).

Sir, our first question is -- is a personal question. How do you find balance? So you did an undergrad in physics. You got a doctorate in physics. You obviously love academics. You love our country. You love your family. How do you find a balance in your work-life dynamic?

SEC. CARTER: It's a good question, and you'll all face it. And I know as I talk to folks who get to the point where they're trying to decide whether they're going to stay in or not -- you all will reach that point. You know, one of the things that they ask themselves is can I do this, and did the family -- (inaudible).

I'm lucky -- I'm lucky at the moment, and here's why. And I've wrestled with this all the time I've been part of this wonderful institution. And I've got to tell you, when my kids were really little, there were times when I didn't feel like that balance was right, but I had to keep doing what I was doing.

So it's tough. But right now, I'm lucky. My kids are grown up and I have this -- this is important; you all know this -- but this kind of service becomes a family affair. And my wife is so into -- she loves the troops. She loves our military. She's very patriotic.

And so she understands, and she can't do things with me all the time. She works. She has a job and so she can't travel with me. And so we're apart a lot. We miss each other and so forth. But I always know she's part of it when she can be part of something, she's just all in. So it makes a difference.

And so you can -- you can deal with the conflicting pressures as long as there's kind of a unifying theme to it. And in most cases, military service becomes a family affair. If your family is with you, you'll be Okay.

Q: Thank you, sir.

Q: Thank you very much, sir.

My question is kind of on a different side of things. We hear a lot here at the academy about how technology has changed and shaped our future and continues to do so. We had a lecture yesterday where, again, it was brought up about technology and its effect on us being able to execute our mission effectively abroad.

And I was wondering from your perspective, for the military, specifically the Army, how does technology help and hinder us as we progress towards executing our mission?

SEC. CARTER: It does both, and your world is going to change fundamentally in your lifetime. You will continue to be, and this is essentially what the Army's mission is, to dominate physical and human terrain. And particularly that human terrain will change in the course of your lives, as it's changing already.

Now, I'm confident that that will give us more opportunities than it will give us challenges. But that's up to us. And that's why it was so great to see the ingenious people around here that I was with today, and why I stressed ingenuity. Keep thinking. Be open to things. Challenge your leaders. Good leaders respect that. They know that. They want that. They want that ventilation and that upward stream of young people with different ideas.

Because remember, you I know -- I grew up in a different world. So I -- my -- I'm different from you. You grew up in a different world from me. I've got to understand that as leader. So if I'm going to relate to you folks and get you to join us and stay, I need to understand how you see life. And, you know, it's different.

SEC. CARTER: And you'll have to look back at other generations. That's why it's so important to me to keep changing how we do things, at least be open to change things.

I can't change the profession of arms, I can't change its basic ethos -- I don't want to. I can't change the fact that you need to go where we tell you to go, mostly, because we need you where we need you. And so -- so you're not like any company and so forth.

But that doesn't mean we can't learn from what else goes on in society and bring in their best ideas wherever they apply to us. We've got to be open to that and we've got to be open to the fact that not everybody is like us, but we need everybody to be part of the team.

STAFF: Yes, sir. Thank you.

STAFF: Sir, thank you so much. We have a lot of questions for you ourselves, but we do want to make sure we hit the cadets' questions. So we now would like to open it up to the cadets who have questions in the corps.

STAFF: Yes, sir. This will be a -- this will be our question here.

Q: Hello, sir.

SEC. CARTER: Hi.

Q: My name is Cadet John (inaudible). I'm a member of the class of 2016 and Company I-1. My question for you is you started your career studying theoretical physics at places like Yale and Oxford, and now you're the secretary of defense. In your experience, what have you learned about finding your true calling in life, and what advice can you give us about doing the same endeavor ourselves?

SEC. CARTER: It's a good question, and I also studied medieval history, and the joke everybody says is well now, you're in the perfect combination of physics and medieval thinking doing what you're doing.

Now, but the -- the reality for me -- and this may be true of you too; I don't know how you came here, whether it was somebody you knew who inspired you or something you saw and said I want to be part of that or -- but I didn't know I'd end up working in defense, I certainly didn't know I'd end up being the secretary of defense. And I talk to a lot of young folks all the time because I like to do that, and they ask me advice in that regard, and here's what I -- here's the piece of advice I can say. I can't say for you what's right for you, but I always tell people if you're making a choice -- there are a lot of people who are very calculating. They say well, I need to go do this because then that will lead to that and that will lead to that and that will lead to that.

And I say when you come to those branch points and you really can't figure out which way to go, the way I always did it was I said -- I went with what I thought I'd enjoy most. I looked down that road and I said do I want to wake up every morning and be doing that, or do I want to wake up every morning and be doing that hoping it leads somewhere else. And the logic of that is that if you like what you're doing and you think it's significant, you'll do well at it, and, therefore, you'll do okay. But it's really important.

And I found in -- with physics -- I got into this business, in physics, it was the height of the Cold War and I was working on problems related to nuclear weapons and strategic competition with the Soviet Union. And as a physicist, I found that when I worked on these issues and was part of decision making about them, I had something I could bring to the table, and that was -- I had technical knowledge. And other people didn't have it and I -- and that meant I had something to say. I had some angle on it that they didn't have. I could make a contribution. And it was the most important thing I could be doing.

So you put those two things together, it doesn't get any better than that, right, if you feel like you can make a contribution and what you're doing is really significant. That was the magic combination for me, and I've loved it and I love it to this -- to this day, and I love every day in this job. I'm so proud of this institution. It's so wonderful to be part of it.

Q: Thank you, sir.

STAFF: Sir, I think we have time for one more question before we have to close out. So this will be the last question.

Q: Good afternoon, sir. My name is Austin (inaudible) I'm part of the class of 2019. My question is, what do we have to gain or lose from our relations with China? And how is the Army adapting to President Obama's policy of shifting to the Pacific, sir?

SEC. CARTER: Well, an excellent question. And if you think about it, the Asia-Pacific -- I said it's the most consequential region for America -- America's future. Just do the math.

If you think about it, it's not in the headlines all the time right? You get the Middle East in the headlines. You've got Eastern Europe in the headlines. And the Asia-Pacific isn't. Why? If it's so important, why isn't it?

Well, the reason for that is that it has generally been an area of peace and stability for 70 years. And during that time, all the countries there have risen and prospered. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, now China and India. And that's good.

But they couldn't have done that without an atmosphere of peace and stability. What made that atmosphere of peace and stability in a region that has no NATO, no formal structure, where the wounds of World War II never really fully healed. What keeps the peace?

Well, the important ingredient has been the United States. – the pivotal role of the United States' influence and the United States' military there. That is what we aim to keep going with the rebalance. And it's not about keeping China down. It's about continuing an environment in which everybody can rise, including us.

That's our approach. And to the Army's part, it is a very important thing. You might look -- you know, you look at a globe and you look at the Asia-Pacific, and you say, gee, it's all ocean. What am I going to do in the Army out there? It's all water. I can see why the Navy's out there, but why would we be out there.

And the reason is this. I mean, first of all, conflict will always be where the people are, and they're not out in the ocean, they're on the land and that's what you're about. Right?

(APPLAUSE)

SEC. CARTER: And second, a lot of the militaries in the region are commanded by their army -- your Army counterparts and that's an important thing. I want to commend the Army and the secretaries of the Army and the chiefs of staff of the Army who have been sticking with -- the rebalances all these years.

I can single out one guy that I think has done a great job. And I single him out simply because he just got promoted. And that is General Vince Brooks, who has been really leading Pacific pathways in the Pacific. I -- that is a real achievement. It has been ingenious and extremely influential.

And you may know that the president has just nominated Vince to be the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, a very senior position in view of his skill, military skill and political military skill. So the Army's all in out there and it's incredibly important. Of all the things I named, the Army's central to each and every one of those challenges.

And I'm confident we'll be central to all of the challenges that I cannot predict now, but that you'll have to deal with in the course of your career.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Sir. Real quick.

MODERATOR: Sir.

SEC. CARTER: Go ahead.

Q: Make sure we have time for...

SEC. CARTER: Go ahead.

Q: You have to...

SEC. CARTER: No, go ahead.

MODERATOR: So there's another question.

SEC. CARTER: There we go.

Q: Sir, cadet Wyatt Frazier, class of 2017, company G-1. As a younger generation of millennials enters the work force, American corporations are shifting towards a less hierarchal and more flat and casual organizational structure. What is the Department of Defense doing to stay competitive in this new work environment?

SEC. CARTER: Well, it's a good question, and we've got to stay competitive. And it gets to attracting and recruiting people. And it means we're going to have to keep thinking and keep changing about how we manage people. Let me give you a few examples of things that we're doing now that -- where we're taking lessons from the private sector that I think we can apply to us in order to better bring in their best practices.

I'll give you a couple of -- couple of examples. One, I have a major effort department-wide to reach out to the technology sector, so that we can increase the pace at which we innovate technologically. If you think about the vehicles that you'll be driving, the armored vehicles that you'll be driving, a lot of these things are decades old, right?

And that doesn't mean they don't have any value, but we need to constantly upgrade your equipment. And if we're -- we operate programs on 10-year time scales and the technology world is changing every year, guess what? We're going to fall behind. So we've got to be defter. That's a big push.

Another one is to draw in some of what you're calling exactly right, flatter, more mobile institutions. Now, I want to be careful because as I said, you are the profession of arms. And I can't put a newspaper ad in for a colonel in the, you know, air defense artillery, right?

You have to -- you get them through the Army. So there's a certain amount of our profession which is a profession and can only come about that way. But that doesn't mean we can't learn things.

For example, I'm finding ways to send more of you out in the course of your career, out to the private sector so you can see how they do things and bring back the best of those practices. Just recently, I changed our policies in a number of ways on family programs -- things like maternity and paternity leave. Now, that may seem in the future to you all, but there will come a time if you decide to have a family where it's a pretty big deal.

And I want to be competitive at that time, so you don't have to feel that you have to choose. Sometimes it's going to be tough for you, but I don't want to make it impossible for you to have a family that you'd like, and also continue to serve us. So where I can make that easier, consistent with readiness, I want to do that. And we're making a lot of changes of those kinds.

The way we promote people and how we give you opportunities along the way, so we're not so rigid about, say, you have to punch this ticket and then punch that ticket, and then punch that ticket. And you find that all you're doing is punching tickets. And that's not really giving you the opportunity to grow in the way that we need you to grow.

We're thinking about how to change your career path. So I think we do need to keep thinking about the career path. You'll always be the profession of arms. We're not Wal-Mart. You know, we're not Google. We're the United States military. But that doesn't mean we can't change and adapt.

And we have to because I need good people like you. And once I get you, I've got to keep you.

Q: Thank you, sir.

Q: Sir, thank you for those answers.

Sadly, we are out of time. So I know the rest of our cadets had some great questions, but now we would like to present you with a token of our appreciation.

SEC. CARTER: Thank you.

Q: But we're really grateful that you were able to come here today.

SEC. CARTER: Thanks again.

(APPLAUSE)

Q: Sir, on behalf of the United States corps cadets in the military academy, I'd like to present you with a small token of appreciation from us for spending your time today.

SEC. CARTER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)