first_imgThe United States Secretary of Defense says Alaska is geographically important to meet growing threats in the Pacific Theatre.Download AudioSec. Ash Carter stopped in Fairbanks on Friday on his way to Korea for security meetings. In Fairbanks he met with personnel from Eielson Air Force Base and Ft. Wainwright. Sec. Carter says funding cuts would likely reduce the level of armed forces stationed in Alaska.In his brief address and meeting with select service members of Ft. Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base Friday, Ash Carter thanked them for their service, told them their work was important to the country and emphasized the strategic importance Alaska plays in global peace-keeping.He then took questions from the audience. One service member wanted to know if Alaska was strategically critical why were Army units being cut. Carter partly blamed funding gridlock in Washington but also acknowledged priorities were shifting away from counterinsurgency wars, called COIN.“Those of you in the Army know that the Army is reducing its size. A lot of that reduction has to do with the end of the COIN wars. The Army has decided it’s better, strategically, to use its funding elsewhere.”What Carter didn’t seem as prepared to address were questions from service members about sexual assault and suicide. He told those gathered sexual assault was fundamentally against the military’s code of honor and would not be tolerated.  While acknowledging the rising number of suicides in the armed forces was disturbing, Carter broadened the context to include American culture as a whole.“I would be proud if we figured out suicide in a way that was not only helpful to our own members who are having that problem, but to society as a whole.”Carter says he admired the military’s ability to take on problems once they were identified.The Defense Secretary was onto meetings in South Korea where among other topics he would take up China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea.last_img