Ashton B. Carter

Barack Obama Administration

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February 17, 2015 -19 January 2017

Ashton B. Carter was sworn-in as the 25th Secretary of Defense on 17 February 2015. He is the 5th former Deputy Secretary of Defense in history to become Secretary.

Secretary Carter, a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, was born on 24 September 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Yale University and graduated summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in physics and medieval history, and in 1979 as a Rhodes Scholar, he earned his doctorate from Oxford University. He was a physics instructor at Oxford, a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University and M.I.T., and an experimental research associate at Brookhaven and Fermilab National Laboratories.

Dr. Carter’s government service began in 1981, when he became an analyst with Program Analysis and Evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy from 1993 to 1996 and was the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from 2009 to 2011. From 6 October 2011 to 3 December 2013, he was Deputy Secretary of Defense.

He has also held academic positions. From 1996 to 2009, he was the Ford Foundation Professor of Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and from 2006 to 2009 he served as the Chair of the International and Global Affairs faculty at the Kennedy School of Government.

Secretary Carter was most recently a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a lecturer at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He also was a Senior Executive at the Markle Foundation. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group.

Among the most prestigious honors that Dr. Carter has received during his career is the Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Department of Defense’s highest civilian award. He is a three-time recipient: in 1994 and 1995 as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy; and in 2011 as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. He has also received the Defense Intelligence Medal from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

He is author or co-author of 11 books and more than 100 articles on physics, technology, national security, and management.

He is married to Stephanie Carter and has two children, William and Ava.