Defense Secretary Carter makes San Diego stop

Posted at 10:30 AM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 21:59:41-05

SAN DIEGO - Secretary of Defense Ash Carter made the rounds in San Diego Wednesday to meet with local military officials.

On Wednesday morning, Carter visited Naval Base San Diego to meet with Navy leadership.

After touring the USS Spruance and USS Princeton, Carter spoke to about 150 sailors and began by thanking them. He told them those ships were going to be modified to be even more lethal.

Tara Kerrin, a lead sonar technician on the USS Spruance, said, "I've always loved the Navy. I've been in the Navy for 13 years, and I've seen a lot of things change."

She was eager to hear Carter talk about more changes.

"You're aboard two of the most formidable ships in the entire world," Carter said.

He said they are getting the lion's share of new investments. He talked about his request for more money in the fight against ISIS. He also said San Diego should see a chunk of the change since it is a hub of naval innovation.

"You, right here, right now, are at the cutting edge of those investments," Carter added.

He said he is adding aircraft, subs and high-end ships. He also announced a missile modification, which adds offense to the defensive weapon.

"It makes the SM-6 basically a twofer. You can shoot down airborne threats, and now you can attack and destroy a ship at long range with the very same missile," Carter explained.

Kerrin posed the question chock full of controversy.

"I was just curious what your vision is in regards to gender neutrality," she said, in part.

"We need the very best people, which means we need to be able to reach into the entirety of the population," Carter said.

Kerrin was pleased to hear his answer.

"The priorities have finally shifted in the right way," she said.

She knows there are a lot of fears about women joining the savage part of the fight.

"People think of their mothers and their sisters and their daughters going out to combat and coming home in a body bag potentially," Kerrin said.

But, they seem to be holding their heads high as they get ready to join the fight head-on.

Gender was irrelevant and Carter stepped away from the podium to personally thank all the men and women for keeping our country safe.

"That's the noblest thing you can be doing with your life, and I'm so proud of you," Carter said.

After leaving Naval Base San Diego, Carter spoke to Marines at a town hall meeting at MCAS Miramar.

In his speech at MCAS Miramar, Carter spoke about how the Marines are likely to see improvements in the near future, including upgrades to its aviation system.

Marines in the audience also had the chance to ask Carter questions on topics from unmanned aircraft to VA benefits.

One Marine told 10News it means a lot that Carter spoke at the base.

"The squad I'm in is not deployed or anything like that, but we have brothers and sisters there that are deployed so every day we want to know what exactly is going on and why we're out there," the Marine said.

Carter's press secretary said there were a number of places Carter was considering for the town hall meeting, but he chose MCAS Miramar because he wanted the Marines there to know he has their interest in mind.