Who Is Ash Carter?

Ashton Carter, 60, nominated Friday to be the new Secretary of Defense, has held three other jobs at the Pentagon over the last 30-plus years, having served as a policy assistant during the Clinton Administration, as the acquisition, technology, and logistics chief, and deputy defense secretary under the Obama Administration; the No. 3 and No. 2 jobs in DOD, respectively. During the Clinton years, he worked to bring fissile materials out of the former Soviet states after the USSR’s collapse, and was also heavily involved in negotiations regarding North Korea’s budding nuclear weapons program. Under Obama, Carter was in charge of accelerating the production and delivery of protective gear for ground troops, such as mine-resistant vehicles, to protect them against the war’s signature enemy weapon: the roadside bomb. He also led the strategic reviews that led to the US military’s “pivot to the Pacific,” and restructured the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and KC-46 tanker. Though he acceded to former Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ move to terminate the F-22, he has since supported the Air Force’s top three acquisition efforts: the F-35, KC-46, and Long-Range Strike Bomber. Carter holds bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Medieval History from Yale. He got a doctorate in Physics from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He did early career work at the Brookhaven and Fermilab national labs, and later served as an advisor to investment firms, on various corporate and government scientific advisory boards, and was a professor of international relations at Harvard. He also co-authored 11 books on national security issues. Carter left the Pentagon almost exactly a year ago; in retirement he has done more advisory work. (Carter biography)