Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta advises soldiers against misco - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta advises soldiers against misconduct

Soldiers on Fort Benning train to keep our country safe every day and Friday they received a special thank you, in person, from the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

"I need your leadership.  I need your courage," said Panetta.

Courage to avoid issues like on from April when pictures surfaced of American troops posing with corpses of suicide bombers in Afghanistan.

Secretary Panetta addressed hundreds of Fort Benning soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.  With some possibly deploying this summer, Panetta made a stern point about a soldier's responsibilities.

 "It takes only seconds, seconds, for a picture, a photo to suddenly become an international headline," said the Secretary of Defense.

Soldiers News Leader 9 spoke with say this serious subject is not a new one, but one they learn in training.

"Even the lowest man on the totem pole can have an impact, not just his small unit's mission, but the military mission in general.  It can have a global impact," said First Lieutenant Andrew Walker.

"They wear a uniform that we all wear.  You know, people don't distinguish between one uniform, it is a unit," said Specialist Jackie Marsh.

Secretary Panetta's visit was also chance to answer questions, give recognition, even reminisce.  Panetta trained here on Fort Benning almost 50 years ago.

"I've been through the swamps.  Been through the red mud been through the humidity.  Yes, I have lots of warm memories of Fort Benning," said Panetta.

However, he said the most important part of this day, was to say thank you.

"This country depends on men and women in uniform who are willing to put their lives on the line in order to give our children a better and more secure life."

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