Ashton Carter

Secretary of Defense of United States

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  • In-Country Power
  • International Power
  • Respect
  • Military Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Special Skill: Quantum Leaper

Official Stats

  • Official Title: Secretary of Defense
  • Government: Well-established democracy
  • Years Left in Office: No fixed term
  • Political Classification:
  • Education: B.A. Physics and Medieval History, DPhil in Theoretical Physics
  • Age: 69 (born September 24, 1954)

Ashton Carter Facts and Information

Important Points

  • Held the position as United States Deputy Secretary of Defense (2011-2013)
  • Former Harvard University professor of Science and International affairs in 1986
  • Nominated as US Secretary of Defense by Barack Obama and confirmed by Senate with a 93-5 vote
  • Co-author of 11 books and wrote more than 100 published articles on physics, technology, national security, and management
  • Served as US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy from 1993-1996

The Rundown

Ashton (Ash) Baldwin Carter was born on September 24, 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents were William Stanley Carter JR (WWII veteran) and Anne Carter who was an English teacher. When he was a kid, his parents would describe him as someone who would always “mouth back” at his superiors (teachers, babysitters, bosses)- for instance, he got fired from his first job at a car wash at age 11 for talking back to his boss.
His education consisted of 6 years at Highland Elementary School, and 4 years at Abington Senior High School (class of 1972) where he was extremely involved with sports, including lacrosse, wrestling, and cross country. He showed great potential for leadership in high school, especially when he was elected President of the school’s National Honor Society. In the spring of 1975, he attended Edinburgh University. The following year was when he received his B.A. in physics and medieval history.

Following his academic career, he decided to be on the other end of the education system- his desire to give back to his community was fulfilled when he decided to be a professor at Harvard University from 1984-1986. Throughout his years at Harvard, he became a professor, assistant professor, served on the board of directors, and became chair of the International and Global Affairs faculty. Later on, he ended up serving as an associate director at Stanford University as well.

Before becoming a successful Secretary of Defense for the United States, he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy from 1993-1996 under Hillary Clinton. His role included being responsible for strategic affairs and dealing with threats around the world. He took part in many of our nation’s greatest nuclear policies, including the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban treaty, and Project Sapphire, which removed all nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Starting April 2009 to October 2011, Carter was Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. He was responsible for many of the Department of Defense’s duties, including procurement reform and agenda setting. Following October 2011, up until December 2013, he served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense and was the chief operation officer for the Department of Defense. His roles included overseeing department annual budget (similar to what is going on now with the new 2016 fiscal defense budget), and was working on various budget strategies for the DOD.

It wasn’t until December 5, 2014 when Carter was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the 25th United States Secretary of Defense. He won with 93-5 votes and was sworn in by VP Joe Biden the following February. He won so many votes because many members of Senate believed that he had a lot of potential to increase US military aid and increase US anti-terrorist strength. He was apparently one of the few candidates that was serious about the seriousness of ensuring a lasting defeat of Islamic State forces. One of his many accomplishments as US Secretary of Defense was when he warned China to stop its rapid island-building in the South China Sea in May 2015, less than a year ago. He also condemned Russian air strikes against the terrorist group, ISIS, and other rebel groups in Syria last October. Along with so many accomplishments for the United States, he was a part of a scandal, however, in December of 2015 when it was revealed that he had a personal email account that he was conducting business matters on, which was frowned upon by many officials of the Department of Defense.

Other roles that Ashton Carter took part in include his position as chairman of the Editorial Board of International Security from 1990-1993 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also served this position at Rockefeller University. Later in 1997, he and CIA director John M. Deutch co-chaired the Catastrophic Terrorism Study Group which addressed the major and increasingly growing issue of terrorism, and stressed the importance of it to the public. It was no wonder why he was so qualified to serve as the United States Secretary of Defense because he spent several years co-directing the Preventive Defense Project, which promotes security policies aimed at preventing the emergence of terrorist threats towards the United States.

His most recent roles in 2015 include being a member of the boards of directors of the Mitre Corporation and Mitretek Systems, along with being a part of the advisory boards of MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Draper Laboratory. He decided to join the American Physical Society because he wanted to continue being involved in his love for science, since he did major in physics in college. After so many years of experience in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was named as a fellow in the American Physical Society, also known as the Forum on Physics & Society just last year. Although he is the Secretary of Defense for the United States, he continues to take part in these smaller roles on the side.

Many people view Carter’s views as “Hawkish”, especially when it comes to Iran. In 2006, he formulated a report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which was supporting the use of threats and violence to prevent Iran from making and distributing nuclear weapons. Carter continues to support diplomacy between the United States and Iran and wrote about methods of containing a nuclear-armed Tehran. He is also known for his support of the 2003 Iraq invasion, and was an advocate for the wars against North Korea and Iran. He also spent one year working on a plan to propose deployment of cruise missiles in Europe that would destroy Russian weapons, many of which were created and obtained during the arms race with the United States.

Some aspects of his current personal life is that he is married to Stephanie Carter, who was his second wife (his first wife was Clayton Spencer). He and his former wife currently have 2 children, Ava and William. When he is not working on things pertaining to the Department of Defense, he is authoring several articles, scientific publications, and government studies. Some of his 11 books that he co-authored include MX Missile Basing (1981), Ballistic Missile Defense (1984), Managing Nuclear Operations (1987), and A New Concept of Cooperative Security (1992).

Ashton Carter has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Ten Outstanding Young Americans award from the United States Junior Chamber in 1987. He also has been awarded the Department of Defense’s highest civilian medal, not once, not twice, but FIVE times! One of his proudest awards was the Defense Intelligence Medal for his contributions to geospatial intelligence. His numerous awards made him stand out from many of the other competitors for the position as the Secretary of Defense, and proved that he was extremely qualified to get the job done.

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