By Nicole Ybarra, Naval Air Station Sigonella Public Affairs
SIGONELLA, Sicily (NNS) -- Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and his wife Stephanie visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella Oct. 6 as part of a five-day trip to Europe, during which time he toured the base and held a town hall with 250 service members.
During the visit Secretary Carter met with Col. Vincenzo Sicuso, Commander of the Italian Air Force 41st Stormo; the Italian Minister of Defence and visited NATO facilities.
Mrs. Carter toured the facilities on NAS 1, including the DoDDS school, the newly renovated Memorial Park, the Midtown MWR complex and chapel before hosting a meet and greet with family members of the Sigonella community.
During this time, Mrs. Carter engaged in an active discussion with the participants concerning base life and the challenges and rewards of living abroad. The dialogue provided a valuable opportunity for participants to exchange views with Mrs. Carter as well as discuss things that were going well, and opportunities for improvement.
After meetings with NAS Sigonella leadership, Secretary Carter hosted the town hall in the Global Hawk Hangar with Sailors, Airmen and Marines, fielding questions on a variety of topics ranging from cyber warfare, Russian presence, and women in combat roles.
Before concluding his visit, Secretary Carter expressed his gratitude, and that of the American people, for the tireless efforts of the service members in their defense of the U.S. and its interests. Against a backdrop of unpredictable threats posed from Russia, China and North Korea, he underscored the importance of maintaining and strengthening ties with partner nations, such as Italy, and reflected on the centrality of this part of the world.
"The 'Hub of the Med' is more than just a slogan. This is an assignment that has always been important, but whose importance has only grown steadily over the last few years," remarked Defense Secretary Carter. "It is a reflection of the importance of what you are doing. You are not only the Hub of the Med. You are the hub of the change in mission sets," concluded Defense Secretary Carter.
NAS Sigonella Commanding Officer, Capt. Chris Dennis, echoed the Defense Secretary's praise, remarking on how once again the community had come together to host yet another impressive high-level DV visit.
"Don't just take my word for it," Dennis said. "The Secretary of Defense, our Ambassador, Rear Admiral Scorby, and all the staff involved praise your efforts. Every one of our members directly or indirectly contributed to a very successful day."
Following his visit to NAS Sigonella, Defense Secretary Carter will attend the NATO Defense Ministerial Conference in Brussels and meet with counterparts in the United Kingdom.