The Defense Department does a poor job of providing civilian employees stable and rewarding career paths comparable to those of uniformed service members, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at ASC15 Wednesday. “I can’t really claim we have a good system for managing [civilians], actually I think it’s appalling. We don’t treat them very well and I sometimes ask myself why they stick with us,” said Carter. “They put up with all the crap because they’re committed to that mission and that is very admirable,” he said, alluding to the series of sudden force reductions and furloughs driven by sequestration and budgetary uncertainties in recent years. “They want to make a difference, they want to keep our country safe and leave a better future for our children,” but the service needs to do better by them, Carter stressed. “I think we do need to think about what kinds of things the next generation of people will find attractive in service, and try to provide that,” similar to what USAF has done for uniformed personnel, he said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.