Ashton Carter, deputy defense secretary, has announced he will step down on Dec. 4. (Colin Kelly / Staff)
WASHINGTON — Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will step down on Dec. 4 after more than two years as the No. 2 civilian at the Pentagon.
Carter informed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel of his decision to step down on Thursday. Carter served as deputy for former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and, since March, for Hagel.
“Ash has been an extraordinarily loyal and effective deputy secretary, both for me and Secretary Panetta,” Hagel said in a statement.
A no-nonsense manager, Carter was said to have been a strong candidate to replace Panetta as defense secretary. This year he spearheaded a major Pentagon budget and strategy review and has worked to improve defense ties with India.
“I am confident that the department, and the country, will continue to benefit from Ash Carter’s service in the months and years ahead,” Hagel said. “I am thankful that Ash will continue to be at my side for the next two months, helping the Department of Defense manage through a very disruptive and difficult time, and ensuring a smooth transition within the office of the deputy secretary.”
Prior to becoming deputy defense secretary, Carter served as the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, where he launched a crusade to improve the weapons-buying process. He instituted Better Buying Power, an acquisition reform initiative designed to get DoD more bang for its buck.
“I will always be grateful that Ash was willing to stay on and serve as my deputy secretary,” Hagel said. “I have continually relied upon Ash to help solve the toughest challenges facing the Department of Defense.
“I particularly appreciate his work spearheading the Strategic Choices and Management Review, which put the department in a far stronger position to manage through unprecedented budget uncertainty,” he said. “He is a brilliant strategist and an excellent manager who helped enhance the department’s buying power, but Ash’s most recent tour of the department will be especially remembered for his tremendous efforts to provide more agile and effective support for our warfighters and their families.”