Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, is being nominated by President Barack Obama to become deputy defense secretary.
Carter, 56, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, will replace William Lynn, who announced his decision last month to retire later this year. Carter assumed office in April 2009. His successor hasn’t been named.
The deputy defense secretary traditionally manages the nuts and bolts of running the department.
The White House announced today Obama’s intention to send Carter’s nomination to the Senate. The choice means the administration won’t need to recruit an outside candidate who may be delayed by the requirement to divest investments to avoid conflicts of interest and wait for FBI vesting before a confirmation hearing.
Carter has been at the center of Pentagon procurement efforts that include crafting $100 billion of efficiency savings and pushing for major change in defense industry contracting. He is known for a hands-on acquisition management style, with frequent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to assess soldier equipment needs.
Carter set up a system for expediting deployment of urgently needed equipment, such as fortified MRAPS vehicles pushed by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, which became a $40 billion program.
During the early days of the program, Carter test drove vehicles and demanded changes to improve driver visibility and safety.
Gates asked that an image of an MRAP vehicle appear in his official portrait to be displayed in the corridor outside the defense secretary’s office. When Gates left office, Carter gave him a scale model of the Navistar International Corp. “MaxxPro” version as a keepsake and artist model.
Prior to assuming this position in 2009, Carter was chairman of the international and global affairs faculty at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and co-director of the Preventive Defense Project.
From 1993 to 1996, he served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. During that time, he directed military planning during the 1994 crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and was involved in removing all nuclear weapons from the territories of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, according to the White House announcement.
Carter holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.