Defense chief Carter visits Fort Bragg as troop cuts loom

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the troops at Fort Bragg Friday as the Army is downsizing.

Carter arrived at the sprawling Cumberland County post for a town hall-style discussion and spent the day with soldiers training for their job as the country's global military response force.

He started by lavishing praise on the XVIII Airborne Corps - saying they are the tip of the spear of military's spear in a new strategic era.

He spoke broadly about the U.S. military's role in the world, in both moral and combat ready terms, and talked about how the force is changing.

He took questions from troops and spent time on the importance of maternity leave, among other reasons, for making the force friendlier to families.

He spoke about how important women will be in the military moving forward.

The Army announced plans Thursday to cut about 840 slots for soldiers at Fort Bragg, one of the lightest blows for a U.S. installation. The Army is shrinking by 40,000 troops and more civilian workers by the end of 2017.

Fort Bragg is home to more than 10 percent of the Army's roughly 490,000 soldiers.

Carter will be in Charlotte on Saturday to speak to the annual conference of the National Association of Counties.

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