U.S. Secretary of Defense visits Fort Rucker - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

U.S. Secretary of Defense visits Fort Rucker

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File Photo ( Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Photo Credit: DoD / sgt. Aaron Hostutler USMC via MGN Online) File Photo ( Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Photo Credit: DoD / sgt. Aaron Hostutler USMC via MGN Online)
Soldiers awaiting the arrival of arrival of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (Source: WSFA 12 News) Soldiers awaiting the arrival of arrival of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Soldiers awaiting the arrival of arrival of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (Source: WSFA 12 News) Soldiers awaiting the arrival of arrival of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (Source: WSFA 12 News)
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FORT RUCKER, AL (WSFA) -

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was at Fort Rucker on Thursday where he discussed the facility's national defense role.

Secretary Hagel got an "up close" look at the airframes aviation soldiers train in, along with the advance aircraft they train to fly before they are assigned to their first unit, Fort Rucker officials said in a statement.

Fort Rucker is one of three installations that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is visiting in the Southeast United States.

Nearly 200 soldiers gathered at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum for a town hall style meeting as part of the visit.

The Defense Secretary highlighted the importance of Fort Rucker's role in our nation's defense.

"What you do here is essential," Hagel said. "I think that is pretty clear, and I saw it first hand when I was in Vietnam in 1968."

Secretary Hagel touched on the importance of modernizing our aviation fleet at Fort Rucker, but it was a bigger topic that took center stage. With the possibility of more budget cuts to the department of defense, Secretary Hagel says that preparation is key.

"Our budget problems here are very real, which are forcing us to make some hard choices, but how does all that add up?" Hagel said. "What do we do and how do we prioritize?"

Hagel says quality people who serve, access to cutting edge capabilities, and building partnerships are the three components that are key in moving forward in securing our borders.

"All these dimensions are critical to what not just what we have today but more importantly continue to sustain these critical assets for our county," Hagel said.

The last time a Secretary of Defense visited the base was in 2009.

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