from DoD News
4/10/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Behind
those who make up the greatest fighting force the world has ever known
are families, many including children, who serve the nation around the
world just as their parents do, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said April 8
On his first official trip to Northeast Asia as defense secretary,
Carter is visiting Japan and South Korea to focus on strengthening and
modernizing U.S. alliances in that region.
In Japan, the secretary held a military family town hall at Yokota Air
Base to celebrate April as the Month of the Military Child, established
in 1986 by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
The month recognizes nearly 2 million U.S. children who have one or both parents serving in the armed forces.
Military kids town hall
To an audience of service members and military kids of all ages, Carter
explained why the U.S. military is the world's greatest fighting force.
"We have the best technology in the world and we have (many) friends and
allies ... and by doing what you're doing here in Japan, you reinforce
that. But that's not the secret," he said.
The people who make up the American military are the secret, the secretary said.
"Nobody else can compare in terms of the people who make up their
militaries," Carter said. "We can ask you to do the most complex tasks,
the most delicate things, the things that require the most smarts and
savvy and strength -- and you do it."
Kids serve, too
And behind every service member is a family, and often, children.
To the military children in the audience Carter said, "Even as we can't
do anything without your dad or your mom, they can't do anything without
you. And so, to the kids who are here I want to say to you -- thank you
for sticking with your folks as they serve our country. And that way
you're serving our country too."
After a round of applause for the military kids, Carter said it's
important for U.S. service members to be in Japan and in the region.
Peace and stability
In a world where many parts of the globe always seem to be in turmoil,
he asked the audience why the Asia-Pacific region is "generally so
peaceful and therefore so prosperous, raising their children in peace
and dreaming their dreams?"
It's because the Asia-Pacific nations have had year after year of peace
and stability, Carter said. That stability has allowed Japan, South
Korea, China, India and others in the region to develop and prosper, he
explained, "because of the peace that the United States, more than any
other single factor, has created in this part of the world for decades.
"In a nutshell," the secretary added, "when we talk about (the United
States rebalancing to the Asia Pacific), it really means focusing on
this part of the world ... because half of humanity lives here (and)
half of the wealth of the world is here."
The region wouldn't be so peaceful and stable, he added, "if it weren't
for ... the longstanding presence of the U.S. military here in Japan and
elsewhere. So you are part of a winning formula out there, and it
wouldn't be this way without you."
Traveling and growing
To the kids, the secretary said he knows that being part of a military family isn't always easy.
"You move around a lot, much more than most American kids, because your
folks have to move. So you have to get used to new schools and new
friends, and that can be difficult," he added.
But the same conditions also give military kids more experience as young
Americans because they have a chance to travel and understand different
cultures and make friends around the United States and around the
"I think in the end you (become) stronger people for having done it,"
Carter said, adding that it's also hard when parents are deployed and
are away from home for a long time.
"We know that people sacrifice in order to be in the military," he
added, "and we know that they're not the only ones who sacrifice, that
their children sacrifice as well."
Service and success
Military kids are some of the most successful citizens, he told the audience.
Military children who grew up on overseas bases and across the United
States have gone on to win Heisman trophies and National Basketball
Association championships, they've become Grammy-winning artists and
Oscar-winning actors and actresses, they've written best-selling books
like "The Hunger Games," and one former military child became an Army
doctor and is now training to become an astronaut, according to military
"You're going to go to great places in the future," Carter said, "and if
that is some way that we pay you back for what you've given us ... I
hope (your success) has something to do with the fact that you've been
He added, "Thank you on behalf of everybody in the United States. We
don't take it for granted -- we really appreciate what you're doing out