Ashton Carter

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Ashton Carter
30th United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
In office
October 5, 2011 – December 3, 2013
President Barack Obama
Secretary Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Preceded by William Lynn
Succeeded by Robert Work
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
In office
April 27, 2009 – October 5, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by John Young
Succeeded by Frank Kendall
Personal details
Born (1954-09-24) September 24, 1954 (age 60)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Yale University
St. John's College, Oxford

Ashton Baldwin Carter was Deputy Secretary of Defense from October 2011 to December 2013, serving as DOD’s chief operating officer overseeing more than $600 billion per year and 2.4 million civilian and military personnel, and managing global 24/7 operations. From April 2009 to October 2011, he was Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics with responsibility for procurement of all technology, systems, services, and supplies, bases and infrastructure, energy and environment, and more than $50 billion annually in R&D.

In his five years in the Pentagon's #2 and #3 positions, Ash

  • led two major reviews of national security strategy and budget that were adopted by the President and Secretary of Defense, including the Asia-Pacific "pivot" and the new cyber warfare strategy
  • formulated the current DOD investment strategies for cyber/enterprise IT, space, manned and unmanned systems, intelligence and reconnaissance systems, special forces, counterterrorism and counter-weapons of mass destruction, energy innovation, healthcare, logistics and supply chain, personnel, and all other aspects of operations, technology, and R&D including funding for DARPA and NSA
  • led huge manufacturing and logistics programs to successful completion, including the complete restructuring of the Joint Strike Fighter (the largest DOD program in history), the Boeing-Airbus competition for the KC-X tanker (the largest procurement in DOD history), the 2010 "surge" in Afghanistan (building more than 200 new bases and delivering 8,000 new MRAP armored vehicles in 16 months), and canceled hundreds of billions of dollars worth of underperforming programs like the VH-71 Presidential Helicopter
  • completed major international cooperative defense efforts, arms sales, and export control reforms, including major transactions with India, NATO, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE
  • led major partnering initiatives with industry, including new and small businesses via DARPA and other funding agencies.

Previously Ash Carter was a Senior Partner of Global Technology Partners focused on advising major investment firms in technology and defense, and an advisor to Goldman Sachs on global affairs. At Harvard’s Kennedy School, he was Professor and Chair of the International Relations, Science, and Security faculty. He served on the boards of the MITRE Corporation, Mitretek Systems, MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories, and a member of the Draper Laboratory Corporation. Ash has been a member of the Defense Policy Board, the Defense Science Board, and Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group.

From 1993-1996, Ash served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, responsible for policy regarding the former Soviet states, strategic affairs, and nuclear weapons policy.

For his service to national security, Ash Carter has on five separate occasions been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, DOD’s highest. He received the Defense Intelligence Medal for his contributions to intelligence and the Joint Distinguished Service Medal from the Chairman and Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate for both the #2 and #3 Pentagon positions.

Ash Carter is author or co-author of 11 books and more than 100 articles on physics, technology, national security, and management.

Education and Early Career[edit]

In 1972, Carter graduated from Abington High School in Abington, PA where he had been President of the Honor Society.

Carter received bachelor's degrees in physics and in medieval history from Yale University, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa in 1976. He received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of Oxford in 1979, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

He was a physics instructor at Oxford, a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University and M.I.T., and an experimental research associate at Brookhaven and Fermilab National Laboratories.

Department of Defense career[edit]

Carter in the U.S Embassy in South Korea in 2013

Carter served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy during President Clinton's first term.

His Pentagon responsibilities encompassed: countering weapons of mass destruction worldwide, oversight of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and missile defense programs, policy regarding the collapse of the former Soviet Union (including its nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction), control over sensitive U.S. exports, and chairmanship of NATO's High Level Group. Carter directed military planning during the 1994 crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program;[1] was instrumental in removing all nuclear weapons from the territories of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus;[citation needed] directed the establishment of defense and intelligence relationships with the countries of the former Soviet Union when the Cold War ended; and participated in the negotiations that led to the deployment of Russian troops as part of the Bosnia Peace Plan Implementation Force. Carter managed the multi-billion dollar Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to support elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of the former Soviet Union, including the secret removal of 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Kazakhstan in the operation code-named Project Sapphire. He also directed the Nuclear Posture Review and oversaw the Department of Defense's (DOD's) Counterproliferation Initiative. He directed the reform of DOD's national security export controls. His arms control responsibilities included the Agreed Framework which froze North Korea's plutonium producing nuclear reactor program,[1] the extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the negotiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and matters involving the START II, ABM, CFE, and other arms control treaties.

In an April 4, 2013 speech at Center for Strategic and International Studies the Secretary affirmed that the 'Shift to Asia' initiative of President Obama was a priority that would not be affected by the Budget sequestration in 2013 as the Pentagon and other departments scaled down spending. The Secretary responded to a Reuters reporters question that China was suspicious of the refocusing of American foreign policy to Asia as a military targeting of China by stating that the Chinese should ask the North Koreans to lower their military posturing and resolve to use diplomacy and dialogue to solve their problems. Carter noted that China was a central economic partner and that 'The Shift to Asia' is principally an economic matter with new security implications. India, Australia, and New Zealand were mentioned as forthcoming security partners.[2]

Other roles[edit]

Carter had been a longtime member of the Defense Science Board and the Defense Policy Board, the principal advisory bodies to the Secretary of Defense. During the Bush administration, he was also a member of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's International Security Advisory Board, co-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Policy Advisory Group, a consultant to the Defense Science Board, a member of the National Missile Defense White Team, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control. In 1997 Carter co-chaired the Catastrophic Terrorism Study Group with former CIA Director John M. Deutch, which urged greater attention to terrorism. From 1998 to 2000, he was deputy to William J. Perry in the North Korea Policy Review and traveled with him to Pyongyang.[1] In 2001-2002, he served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism and advised on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. He has testified frequently before the armed services, foreign relations, and homeland security committees of both houses of Congress.

In addition to his public service, Carter was a Senior Partner at Global Technology Partners and a member of the Board of Trustees of the MITRE Corporation, and the Advisory Boards of MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Draper Laboratory. He has been a consultant to Goldman Sachs and Mitretek Systems on international affairs and technology matters, and speaks frequently to business and policy audiences. Carter was also a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Physical Society, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Carter was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Carter's research focuses on the Preventive Defense Project, which designs and promotes security policies aimed at preventing the emergence of major new threats to the United States.

From 1990-1993, Carter was Director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Chairman of the Editorial Board of International Security. Previously, he held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and Rockefeller University.


In addition to authoring numerous articles, scientific publications, government studies, and Congressional testimonies, Carter co-edited and co-authored eleven books, including:

  • Directed Energy Missile Defense in Space (1984)
  • Ballistic Missile Defense (1984)
  • Managing Nuclear Operations (1987)
  • Soviet Nuclear Fission: Control of the Nuclear Arsenal in a Disintegrating Soviet Union (1991)
  • Beyond Spinoff: Military and Commercial Technologies in a Changing World (1992)
  • A New Concept of Cooperative Security (1992)
  • Cooperative Denuclearization: From Pledges to Deeds (1993)
  • Preventive Defense: A New Security Strategy for America (1997)
  • Keeping the Edge: Managing Defense for the Future (2001)


  1. ^ a b c "Kim's Nuclear Gamble: Interview: Ashton Carter". Frontline. PBS. 3 March 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  2. ^ Carter, Ashton Honorable, Inderfurth, Karl R. (April 4 2013) "Statesmen's Forum: Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter On U.S. Defense Policy in Asia" Center for Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved 9 April 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Young
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
Succeeded by
Frank Kendall
Preceded by
William Lynn
United States Deputy Secretary of Defense
Succeeded by
Christine Fox (Acting; as of Wednesday, December 3, 2013)