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      Secretary of Defense visits Fort Jackson

      Secretary of Defense Robert Gates observes training at Fort Jackson. / Fort Jackson

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- The Secretary of Defense visited Fort Jackson Thursday to see how civilians are transformed into Army Soldiers during basic combat training.

      According to a release from the base, Robert Gates visit was part of a multi-base tour.

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      While on base officials say Secretary Gates had lunch with drill sergeants and observed multiple training events, including live-fire, urban environment and battlefield life-saving actions.

      "I am extremely proud to have had Secretary Gates here today and for him to see the outstanding work our noncommissioned officers accomplish on a daily basis," Fort Jackson commanding general, Maj. Gen. James Milano said in the release.

      The secretary will retire next month. Current CIA director Leon E. Panetta has been nominated to replace him.