Panetta Officially Welcomes Carter as Deputy Secretary

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta offi­cial­ly wel­comed the man he called his “alter ego” to the Pen­ta­gon today dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny in hon­or of Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton B. Carter.

The sec­re­tary called Carter “a bril­liant thinker with the cre­ativ­i­ty and dis­ci­pline that you have to have in order to be able to excel in this office.”

Carter was sworn into office Oct. 6, suc­ceed­ing William J. Lynn III.

Panet­ta said he want­ed the deputy sec­re­tary to be an alter ego, “some­one who can go right into your shoes and run this depart­ment; some­one who has to be there when you’re not in your office, basi­cal­ly man­ag­ing and run­ning this insti­tu­tion.”

Carter said he is deeply hon­ored that Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma asked him to be the deputy sec­re­tary dur­ing what he called a “momen­tous time” for nation­al defense.

“For a decade, our depart­ment has been riv­et­ed, by neces­si­ty, on two wars � Iraq and Afghanistan. These have not yet end­ed, but they will,” he said. “At this moment, we have the oppor­tu­ni­ty � real­ly the oblig­a­tion � to piv­ot this depart­ment to new chal­lenges that will define our future.”

The Unit­ed States must meet the chal­lenges of the new world and in some areas catch up with devel­op­ments in the world, Carter said. “To do this, we will need to let go of the famil­iar � weapons sys­tems, forces, insti­tu­tions, habits � and grab hold of the new,” he said.

The depart­ment must build the Joint Force 2020 that Army Gen. Mar­tin Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called for, Carter said.

But, he said, the Unit­ed States must put its finan­cial house in order, and the Defense Depart­ment will do its part. The depart­ment will get less mon­ey and the “bud­get turn­down needs to be man­aged care­ful­ly to avoid the pit­falls of pre­vi­ous down­turns,” Carter said.

Defense lead­ers must put forth “our most hon­est and care­ful­ly rea­soned pro­pos­als in front of the pres­i­dent and Con­gress,” he said. “As Sec­re­tary Panet­ta has said, we do not need to choose between fis­cal dis­ci­pline and strong nation­al defense.”

Carter will be the department’s chief man­age­ment offi­cer and look at ways to elim­i­nate waste­ful spend­ing and effi­cien­cies. He also will guide the department’s ongo­ing assess­ment of cur­rent and future strate­gic needs. This review will shape the kind of force need­ed for today and the future, Panet­ta said.

Carter served in the Pen­ta­gon in the 1980s and as the assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy in the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion from 1993 to 1996. He returned to acad­e­mia work­ing at Har­vard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment in Boston. In 2009, Oba­ma asked Carter to come back to Wash­ing­ton as the under­sec­re­tary of defense for acqui­si­tion, tech­nol­o­gy and logis­tics.

“As a nation and as a depart­ment, the chal­lenges we face are absolute­ly enor­mous,” Panet­ta said. “But we also have a great oppor­tu­ni­ty. And every chal­lenge rep­re­sents an impor­tant oppor­tu­ni­ty for the future, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to forge a bet­ter force for the future, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to mod­ern­ize and strength­en our mil­i­tary.

“Ash’s expe­ri­ence, his intu­ition, his abil­i­ty to insti­tute change will be essen­tial to seiz­ing these oppor­tu­ni­ties as we move the Depart­ment of Defense into the future,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)