Ashton Carter Stepping Down As Deputy Defense Secretary

Ashton Carter is stepping down as deputy defense secretary effective December 4. Carter is known for his knowledge of US defense spending and the defense industry.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was confirmed by the senate earlier this year, stated that he “reluctantly accepted” Carter’s resignation.

Yahoo! News reports that Brett Lambert, who worked closely with Carter, stated that the deputy defense secretary’s main legacy is his “unwavering, untiring and overwhelming” commitment to keeping troops safe and equipped to the best of his ability.

Over the years, that meant researching and sending troops sometimes strange equipment, from explosive-sniffing dogs to surveillance blimps and mine-resistant trucks.

During his four years in the post, Ashton Carter helped reopen communications with the defense industry and brought a fresh take on his job. The Washington Post notes that Carter is a theoretical physicist and former Harvard professor.

Ashton Carter didn’t explain why he is stepping down from his post, except to say that “it is time for me to go.” Carter served in several positions at the Pentagon under Democratic presidents, including his most recent stint with President Obama. He served as an assistant secretary for international security policy under the Clinton administration.

However, he was passed over by President Obama for the post of Defense Secretary, as the current president nominated Hagel, a former Republican senator, instead. Hagel was the first to announce Carter’s decision in a statement after the pair met on Thursday. Hagel wrote, “Ash has been an extraordinarily loyal and effective Deputy Secretary. The Department will miss him — I will miss him.”

It isn’t clear what Ashton Carter plans to do next, and Hagel didn’t mention who might replace him. However, several names floated around late on Thursday, including Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, and the Pentagon’s former policy chief, Michele Flournoy.

[Image by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo via Wikimedia Commons]