Cadet Summer Training

Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter Visits Fort Knox

Written by: Emily LaForme, Sydney Davenport, Mattie Cook, Tori McQueen and Matty Sheehy

FORT KNOX, Ky. – The 25th Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter visited Fort Knox during Cadet Summer Training (CST) as part of his tour of U.S. bases June 22.

During his visit, Carter visited three training locations and had lunch with several Cadets.

Carter first visited the Cadet Leaders Course Mission Context Leadership Exercise (MCLX) site which is designed to simulate a mission environment in a foreign country. At Ashagi Village, Carter witnessed Cadets conducting a key leadership engagement (KLE) with village leaders.

Ashton Carter, United States Secretary of Defense, visited Fort Knox, Ky., on June 22, to observe Cadets in a key leader engagement training. (Photo By - Kasey Ricketts)

Ashton Carter, United States Secretary of Defense, visited Fort Knox, Ky., on June 22, to observe Cadets in a key leader engagement training. (Photo By – Kasey Ricketts)

He was impressed with Cadet performance in the village and thanked them for their professionalism while training.

From the MCLX site, Carter visited the Field Leader Reaction Course (FLRC). While there, he observed two of the twelve obstacles Cadets experience, parachute equipment drop and Ho Chi Minh trail.

Lt. Col. Scot Hodgon, professor of military science at San Diego State University, explained to Secretary Carter the purpose of the FLRC, which is to promote teamwork, communication and problem solving skills.  

Secretary Carter then observed the Cadets as they went through planning and implementation stages on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

When given the opportunity to speak to a squad of Cadets, Carter had this to say,

“A career in the Army is one of the noblest professions you can dedicate your lives to, and I am very, very proud of you.”     


Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, visits Fort Knox, Ky, to have lunch with the Cadets on June 22. Photo by Angel Whittle.

Carter then had lunch with eight Cadets.

At the dining facility, Carter said he was impressed with their dedication and training thus far. The Cadets were pleased that Secretary Carter was interested in their experiences.

He ended the tour with a brief speech to 148 Cadets of the 4th Regiment CLC before a press conference.

Secretary Carter conveyed his pride in their service. He also praised the Cadets on their hard work, sacrifice of their time and future success as Army officers and leaders.


Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, talks to Maj. Gen Christopher P. Hughes June 22 at the Alex Field Leader Reaction Course, Fort Knox, Ky. Photo by Wenqing Yan.

Four Cadets were given the opportunity to ask Carter questions and express concerns.

When asked on his own experience as young leader, he said:

“I wanted to do something good and do something valid. I felt I could make a contribution in this field and it was the most important thing I could do,” Carter said.

He was adamant that the nation is building the Force of the Future by staying ahead, prioritizing readiness and modernizing the military.

Carter stated that education and growth is a big part of staying ahead.

“I need you to feel that the Army is a place where you can grow,” Carter said, “for the selfish reason that you will stay.”

Carter also stated his determination in selecting the best of the best when it comes to future military leaders.

“It’s never good enough to be the best, it’s only good enough to stay the best,” Carter said, “I have the utmost confidence in our men and women in the military.”

Secretary Carter departed Fort Knox for Crane, Indiana to continue his tour of U.S. bases.

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Mattie Cook

A graduate of the University of Louisville, Mattie is a Public Affairs Intern for U.S. Army Cadet Command of Fort Knox, KY. Mattie has a passion for serving Veterans, military families and using the power of word to tell the Army story.

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