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SECDEF Speaks with Sailors and Marines at NSA Bahrain

By Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command public affairs | March 15, 2018

MANAMA, Bahrain --

U.S. Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) James N. Mattis held an all-hands call on board Naval Support Activity Bahrain, March 15.

During the all-hands call, he thanked service members for their hard work and dedication while reminding them of the important role they play in the 5th Fleet area of operations.

“My fine young shipmates, I’m coming out here for one reason and that is to pay my respect for your service. I want you to know that I know you do all the work,” said Mattis.

Mattis delivered this message to a standing-room only audience of more than 800 service members in the base gymnasium, and many of them arrived an hour early to ensure a seat.

“I think it’s great for morale when our leaders take the time to speak to the troops and show an appreciation and respect for what it is we do on a daily basis,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Erik Abalos, assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “And I think the impact is even more significant when the leader is someone like the SECDEF, who has actually worn the uniform and served side-by-side with service members.”

The SECDEF spoke to service members for approximately 30 minutes before taking questions, and he made it a point to conclude his speech with a message to not only those in attendance, but to a global audience as well.

“There is one part of America that no one has any doubt about in the world, and that is the U.S. military. You need to make certain in this imperfect world that there is never any doubt on the part of our allies that you’re with them, and the part of our adversaries that they really don’t want to mess with us,” said Mattis. “They want to talk with our diplomats, because they don’t want to deal with the Department of Defense.”

The Secretary of Defense is the principal defense policy adviser to the President and is responsible for the formulation of general defense policy and policy related to all matters of direct concern to the Department of Defense, and for the execution of approved policy. Under the direction of the President, the Secretary exercises authority, direction and control over the Department of Defense. The Secretary of Defense is a member of the President's Cabinet and of the National Security Council.

U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.