Pentagon’s No. 2 official announces he’ll step down

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be resigning in December after four years at the Pentagon.
(Lee Jin-man / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — Ashton Carter, the deputy Defense secretary, announced his resignation , saying “it is time for me to go” after a four-year stint at the Pentagon.

Carter said in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that he had “long firmly intended” to announce he would be resigning in December but had held off because of the government shutdown.

“I have decided that this situation might well continue, and I don’t want any more time to pass before giving you the opportunity” to announce a successor, he said in the letter.

“I have dedicated myself to providing agile support for the war fighter in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever they are deployed” and “to achieving better buying power for the taxpayer in the defense budget,” Carter said.


Carter, a former Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, was a contender for the top job at the Pentagon earlier this year, but President Obama chose Hagel, a former Senate colleague.

Obama reportedly insisted that Hagel, who had little experience running a vast bureaucracy like the Pentagon, keep on Carter, who had developed a reputation as an exacting manager in a long series of Defense Department posts starting in the 1990s.

He recently helped develop the Pentagon plan for furloughing nearly 400,000 employees as part of the government shutdown and had also overseen implementation of across-the-board spending cuts that trimmed $37 billion out of the defense budget this year.

“I will always be grateful that Ash was willing to stay on and serve as my deputy secretary,” Hagel said in a statement. “I have continually relied upon Ash to help solve the toughest challenges facing the Department of Defense.”

Carter, whose final day will be Dec. 4, was undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics during Obama’s first term before taking over the second-ranking job in the department under Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

“The decision to depart the Pentagon later this year was Deputy Secretary Carter’s and his alone. He’ll be missed by the secretary,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement, noting that Carter received a standing ovation at a staff meeting when he announced he was stepping down.

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