DOD NEWS -- "We're not the prettiest looking group, but we're dynamite when the music starts playing."
That's what Frank Wareham III, chief mate of the dry cargo ship USNS Carl Brashear, told Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III during a visit to the men and women who work to make possible U.S. power projection.
Austin met the service members and civilian mariners whose work keeps the international sea and air lanes open during a stop at Singapore's Sembawang Naval Base.
The military members come from all services and work alongside allies and regional partners, and Austin called them "the unsung heroes" of America's Indo-Pacific strategy.
The Carl Brashear is one of more than 40 ships that replenish and refuel U.S. Navy ships at sea. They also stand by to help in disaster assistance and humanitarian operations.
The secretary thanked the assembled Defense Department personnel for their professionalism and noted the importance of logistics in all operations. The United States has worldwide reach because of the efforts of small detachments like theirs. "We do it well because of you," he said to them.
The secretary also pointed to the importance of logistical support to counter the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an example of their importance. Russian logistics shortfalls led to the failure of their operation to capture Kyiv, he told them. Now, the war in the Donbas requires logistical support to keep the Ukrainian forces supplied with arms and ammunition.
He also noted that in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, where he was an assistant division commander behind the 3rd Infantry Division, there were logistics units ensuring the supply to the fuel, food and ammunition needed to succeed.
In answer to a question from the secretary, Wareham talked about life aboard the Brashear at sea. "When you are cruising at 13 knots, and there is a carrier on one side and a destroyer on the other, we're hitting on all cylinders," he said, noting that the ship has resupplied U.S. Navy vessels in the 5th Fleet area of operations as well as the 7th Fleet.
Before taking pictures with the service members and mariners, Austin said "we wouldn't be successful without you."