By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel thanked U.S. troops and their families yesterday on behalf of all Americans for their sacrifice during the holiday season, and for carrying out an essential mission at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
The defense secretary held a troop talk with U.S. service members during his stop in Kuwait as part of an unannounced trip to the Middle East.
Thanks to Troops and Families
“I wanted to come out here for a few minutes today to thank you and to tell you how much we appreciate everything you do for this country,” he said. “This is a tough business -- [a] tough job. You’ve got about as tough a job as anybody does in our business. We know that. The country knows it -- and we thank you for that.”
The defense secretary said he also wanted to note the sacrifice of troops’ families as they move into the holiday season away from their loved ones.
“Please give your families my thanks on behalf of all Americans,” he said. “Tell your families we appreciate what they do; the sacrifices they make along with you.”
Essential Mission in Kuwait
Hagel said he particularly wanted to visit Kuwait to thank the troops for their mission as a combined joint task force which serves as the centerpiece for everything that happens in the region.
“It is the pivot point,” he said. “It is absolutely critical to everything that happens as it moves out, and you know that.”
Though their efforts may sometimes seem undervalued or under-recognized, Hagel noted, what service members do in Kuwait is “absolutely essential to make it all work.”
Some 60 coalition partners have assembled to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the barbaric threats they, and other extremist groups, represent, Hagel said.
“That is really pretty impressive to be able to marshal that many countries, all participating, all contributing in their own way,” he added. “But it can’t happen without the United States’ leadership; it won’t happen without our leadership.
“It won’t happen without you,” he continued, “and it won’t happen without these kinds of efforts that are being made right here. So I wanted to make sure you knew that we know, in Washington, what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
Making History in Dangerous Times
A second point, Hagel said, is that the nation faces a dangerous and uncertain time unlike any other.
“It’s a time in history we’ve really never seen before,” he said. “That’s the result of many dynamics -- technology, a decentralization of power and capacity that we’ve never seen before -- ungoverned spaces in ways that we’ve really never seen before. And I think, sometimes, any of us, because we’re human beings, can tend to think that it’s a hopeless effort. Well, nothing’s ever hopeless.”
Hagel told the service members that they’re making history. “You are defining much of the history that’s being made now,” he added, “but more importantly, it’s for a purpose. You are defining a future. You are defining a new world order in everything you do every day. And every job’s important -- every component of every job is important, or we’ll fail.”
Reaffirming Leadership Support
It takes leadership, capability and capacity for success, Hagel said, reaffirming that Defense Department leaders are committed to understanding troops’ problems and concerns, and assuring they have everything needed to do their jobs.
“You can’t do your jobs that we expect you to do -- that you want to do -- if you’re bothered and worried about other things,” he said. “We’re here to make sure that, that doesn’t happen.”
The defense secretary again thanked the troops and their families for their service and sacrifice, and expressed his admiration for their holiday spirit.
“I, once upon a time, was away from home over a holiday period in a different kind of war,” he said, referring to his service in Vietnam, “so I have some understanding of what you and your families deal with when you have these important holidays. It means so much to families, so thank you very much.”