President Obama has reportedly made his decision on who will replace the resigning Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. The president has elected Ashton Carter to take over and take US defense is a different direction. However, Ashton Carter is not unfamiliar with the Pentagon, he was Deputy Secretary of Defense (2nd in command at Pentagon) between October 2011 and December 2013. From 2009 to 2011, Carter was in charge of logistics, innovation, and head arms buyer. Additionally, his government service dates back to the Clinton Administration, where he served at the post of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. Ashton Carter obtained his doctorate and Rhodes Scholar distinguished honors from Oxford University.
Ashton Carter used to being in a position of leadership
At first glance, Ashton Carter appears to be a clear opposite to Hagel, who was a former senator before entering taking charge of the defense post. Being that Hagel was an “outsider” to the defense community, there was certainly a learning curve, perhaps more of a curve than the president and his advisors previously anticipated. Ashton Carter, on the other hand, would be closer to a defense “lifer” because of his involvement in the department of defense since the Clinton Administration. In other words, Carter has seen our defensive posturing and changes that have taken place over the past 20 years. Ashton Carter is used to being in a position of leadership, given his number 2 status at the Pentagon for over two years and, not to mention, he is a pretty smart guy with a doctorate and Rhodes scholarship.
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Ashton Carter inheriting a clouded and tense US defense situation
The bottom line here is that, while I do not mean to pick on Hagel, we did see a rise in a number of threats come to a head during his watch. Russia and the Islamic State, are the two biggest by far, and it certainly gives reasoning to why we would need a new defense game plan. We need a defense official running the defense department who knows the structure and procedures, and can make effective decisions to help protect the people of the United States. In fact, news just broke yesterday about an increase in “chatter” that suggested an IS attack on American soil, targeting US Military. This is why we need effective leadership to combat these “rumors”, preparations must be made to safeguard significant US Military sites across the mainland US, starting with nuclear sites. At the end of the day, Ashton Carter is inheriting a clouded and tense US defense situation with an Afghan War drawdown, US air raids on IS targets in Iraq, increase in Russian aggression, increase in Chinese aggression, and an expanding al Qaeda factions into Africa and Arabian Peninsula. It will not be an easy task, but it is up to Ashton Carter now to lead US defenses against the whole host of threats knocking at our door.