Obama Nominates Carter to be Next Defense Secretary
Obama Nominates Carter to be
Next Defense Secretary
By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – December 5, 2014 – President Barack Obama today named Dr. Ashton B.
Carter as his choice to become the 25th secretary of defense.
Ashton B. Carter offers remarks after President Barack
Obama nominated him to serve as the next defense secretary during an event at
the White House, Dec. 5, 2014. Obama's announcement followed the resignation of
Chuck Hagel, who will remain in office until the U.S. Senate confirms a
successor. Carter served as deputy defense secretary from October 2011 to
December 2013, and served as undersecretary of defense for acquisition,
technology and logistics before that.
In one way or another, Obama said at the White House ceremony,
Carter has served 11 secretaries of defense.
“He's an innovator who helped create the program that has
dismantled weapons of mass destruction around the world and reduced the threat
of nuclear terrorism,” Obama added.
“He's a reformer who's never been afraid to cancel old or
inefficient weapons programs; he knows the Department of Defense inside and out.
All of which means that on day one, he's going to hit the ground running,” the
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement issued this
morning that he supports Carter’s nomination.
On Nov. 24, the president accepted Hagel’s resignation as
defense secretary. Hagel has agreed to stay on until his successor has been
confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Strategist, Scientist, Scholar
Carter, Hagel said, has held the No. 2 and No. 3 jobs at the
Pentagon and for both was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate.
“He is a renowned strategist, scientist and scholar with
expertise spanning international security and counterterrorism to science,
technology and innovation,” Hagel added, “and I know that Ash and [his wife]
Stephanie are committed to America's men and women in uniform and their families.”
At the White House, Carter said he accepted the president's
nomination “because of my regard for his leadership [and] because of the
seriousness of the strategic challenges we face, but also the bright
opportunities that exist for America if we can come together to grab hold of
He also accepted the nomination, he said, because of the deep
respect and abiding love that he and his wife Stephanie have for the men and
women in uniform.
Pledging Candid Advice
Carter said that if confirmed he would give the president his
most candid strategic and military advice.
“And finally,” Carter added, “to the greatest fighting force
the world has ever known, to you I pledge to keep faith with you and to serve
our nation with the same unflinching dedication that you demonstrate every day.”
Carter served as deputy defense secretary from October 2011
to December 2013 under former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and later under
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Under Hagel, Carter’s portfolios included serving as the
department’s point man in defense relations with India and heading the
department’s investigation into the September 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting
that killed 12 people and injured three others.
Leading DoD Acquisition Efforts
As undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and
logistics from April 2009 to October 2011, Carter led DoD efforts to speed the
fielding of urgently needed equipment, including mine-resistant,
ambush-protected vehicles. He also worked to increase Pentagon buying power and
helped bolster U.S. defenses against emerging threats.
Over the course of his career in public service, Carter four
times received the DoD Distinguished Service Medal. For contributions to
intelligence, Carter received the Defense Intelligence Medal.
Over the years Carter has moved several times between
academia and government, and a 2007 autobiography written while he was on the
faculty of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government describes a
career transition that began in theoretical physics and moved into defense and
He earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and in medieval
history from Yale University and received his doctorate in theoretical physics
from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
From Physics to International Security
After his study at Oxford, Carter returned to the United
States to begin climbing the academic ladder in physics, he said in the
In 1979 colleagues convinced him to take a yearlong leave of
absence from theoretical physics to join a study team of scientists at the
Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. The team was asked to analyze all
the ways MX intercontinental ballistic missiles could be protected from a Soviet
Union nuclear first strike.
The experience left him with a deep concern about the
problems of international security, he said, and he decided to change careers.
His first job at the Pentagon was in the systems analysis department in the
Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“My job covered strategic nuclear forces, strategic defenses
including missile defenses, space and intelligence systems, command-and-control
systems and nuclear weapons,” Carter said.
Enjoying the Job
“I could easily understand these technologies and some of the
policy issues that arose,” he said, adding that he enjoyed the job and liked
working at “what we denizens of the Pentagon all jokingly called ground zero.”
Later, during the Clinton administration, Carter served as
assistant secretary of defense for international security policy.
Before joining the Obama administration, Carter chaired the
International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy
School of Government and co-directed the Preventive Defense Project.
At the White House today, Obama said the nation faces no
shortage of challenges to national security.
No Shortage of Security Challenges
“Our combat mission in Afghanistan ends this month and we
have to transition to a new mission of advising and assisting Afghan forces and
going after remnants of al Qaeda's core,” the president said.
“We have to keep degrading and ultimately destroying [the
Islamic State in the Levant] in Iraq and Syria. We have to build
counterterrorism partnerships and new platforms. We have to continue the fight
against Ebola in West Africa. We have to continue to strengthen our alliances,
including NATO, and continue rebalancing our defense posture in the Asia-Pacific,”
Obama also said the nation needs a leaner military and that
as commander in chief he would make sure it remains second to none.
And, he said, the nation will have to bolster new
capabilities, including cyber defenses and new capabilities to meet long-term
Making Smart Choices
“Ash is going to be critical to all these efforts,” Obama
“When we talked about this job we talked about how we're
going to have to make smart choices … [and] squeeze everything we have out of
the resources we have to be as effective as possible. And I can't think of
somebody who's more qualified to do that” than Ash Carter, the president said.
Carter must be confirmed by the Senate before he becomes the
25th secretary of defense.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)
Statement by Secretary Hagel on the Nomination of Ashton Carter December 5, 2014
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