Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Addresses ROTC Grads at Yale

By Mary O'Leary | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), May 23, 2016 | Go to article overview

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Addresses ROTC Grads at Yale


Mary O'Leary, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


NEW HAVEN » After four decades, Yale University Monday again saw some of its students commissioned as Navy ensigns and Air Force second lieutenants after participating in the Reserve Officer Training Corps on its campus during their undergraduate years.

ROTC was not available here for the long hiatus as a protest to the Armed Services' "don't ask, don't tell" policy that would not let gays and lesbians serve openly in the military.

That policy was repealed in 2010 and Yale resumed its affiliation with ROTC in 2011.

The event was viewed with some significance as the person swearing them in was Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, the country's 25th secretary of defense and a graduate of Yale, class of 1976. The ROTC detachment was the first since the Vietnam War era.

PHOTOS: Secretary of Defense at Yale

Among those commissioned at the university, as a separate part of its commencement ceremony, were 10 Yale students sworn-in as ensigns and four Yale students now Air Force officers.

Among the 18 were three students from the University of New Haven and one from Quinnipiac University, all second lieutenants in the Air Force.

Carter told the group their choice of providing security for the American people and for most of the world, was the "noblest mission ... a young person can undertake."

"It is said security is like oxygen. When you have it, you don't think about it," Carter said. "When you don't have it, it is all you think about."

The defense secretary said the graduates' decision to be leaders allows the rest of Americans to live their lives to the fullest. "There is no better feeling than being part of that mission," he said.

Carter told the 18, who each got their military assignment from him, that the country was counting on their professionalism and ability to be innovators, in dealing with the present dangers in the world and those not anticipated.

Early in his talk, he enumerated the five major challenges, the "strategic landscape," they will face as officers:

"Countering the prospect of Russian aggression and coercion, especially in Europe; managing the stark change in the vital Asia- Pacific region, the single region of the world with the most consequences to the American future, as other nations, including China, rise and prosper; strenthening our deterrent and defense forces in the face of North Korea's provocations; checking Iranian aggression ... in the Persian Gulf; and accelerating the certain defeat of ISIL and its parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and everywhere else it is metastasizing around the world," Carter said.

He told the young officers that they have no choice but to deal with all of them and he predicted those issues would impact all of their careers as their service could span decades. …

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