Hagel was able to see some of Fort Rucker's aviation equipment and then led a town hall meeting. The secretary keyed in on three main priorities he says we need in order to secure the country, modernize and stay ready.
"Focusing on the health of our force, focusing on our people is always the first priority,” said Hagel. “Second, is capability. If we ask you to do the jobs that we ask you to do then we owe you some things and we owe you the commitment to present and provide the cutting edge capabilities that you need."
The third priority, Hagel said, is to help build partnerships with other countries. After speaking to the soldiers he opened the floor for questions and a hot topic of discussion was sequestration.
"If we don't get some relief we're going to have to make some very abrupt cuts and they won't be as thoughtful. We can do this now in a gradual way bring it down, bring it down, bring it down,” said Hagel. “If we are forced into sequestration again where we've got no other recourse then it'll get a lot tougher than it is, but I am hopeful that the congress will do something about it."
Hagel also touched on issues about Iraq and budget cuts. He says the main reason for his visit wasn't to discuss political matters but to simply say thank you for the role Fort Rucker plays in the nation’s defense.
"I mainly wanted to have an opportunity to thank you for what you do every day and your families and what your families do every day for this country. We are very grateful for you,” said The Secretary of Defense.
Each solider who attended the meeting was able to shake hands with Hagel and they also received a challenge coin. The coin is a simple token of gratitude.
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