Top DOD budget-cutter nominated as DOD No. 2

Ashton Carter, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, is expected to replace William Lynn in the No. 2 post at the Defense Department.

The major budget cuts underway at the Defense Department and on the table in the debt ceiling deal are likely to get a strong push from at least one newly promoted DOD official: President Barack Obama has nominated Ashton Carter, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, as deputy secretary of defense.

Carter has taken a leading role in DOD efforts to streamline spending and implement widespread efficiencies tthat include his 23-point Better Buying Power program, part of broader DOD efficiency efforts established by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“To put it bluntly: We have a continuing responsibility to procure the critical goods and services our forces need in the years ahead, but we will not have ever-increasing budgets to pay for them. We must therefore strive to achieve what economists call productivity growth: in simple terms, do more without more,” Carter noted in his Sept. 14, 2010 memorandum outlining the plan.

His efforts will likely resurge with renewed urgency as Congress’ debt ceiling legislation calls for trillions in budget cuts, huge portions of which will come out of defense spending. Carter’s nomination to the No. 2 DOD post could also signal increasing focus on acquisition in DOD.


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Carter has been known for his hands-on approach to his job.

“Carter has excelled in his current role as under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. His rapid and responsive support to the warfighter, and technical and program expertise are transforming the way this department does business and acquires weapons systems. His work has helped ensure that the weapons the United States military buys are more effective and more affordable,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Aug. 2.

“He is also a top strategic thinker, serving during the Clinton Administration as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy and holding top academic posts at Harvard University. I look forward to having Ash as my partner as we drive solutions to the strategic management challenges facing the Department of Defense,” Panetta said,

Carter has been in the under secretary position since April 2009; before that he was on the faculty of Harvard University and he has served on a number of defense advisory boards. Under President Bill Clinton Carter served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. He has twice been awarded the DOD Distinguished Services medal as well as the Defense Intelligence Medal.

Carter graduated from Yale and received a doctorate from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

He will replace Deputy Secretary William Lynn, who announced in July that he would be stepping down.

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