Obama’s Secretary of Defense Suddenly Drops Dead

OPINION | This article contains commentary that reflects the author's opinion.

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter died unexpectedly due to a sudden cardiac event. He was 68.

Beginning his career as a theoretical physicist, Carter later devoted his professional life to the national security of the United States and teaching students about international affairs.

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Carter served as Secretary of Defense from February 2015 to January 2017. His wife’s hair was notoriously sniffed by then-Vice President Joe Biden:

President Joe Biden released a statement, saying, “President Obama and I relied on Ash’s fierce intellect and wise counsel to ensure our military’s readiness, technological edge and obligation to the women and men of the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.”

In January 2016, he made significant changes for women in the military. He opened all military roles to women and increased paid military maternity leave to 12 weeks.

Carter also announced a new transgender policy for the military during his time working in the Obama administration. He ended the ban on transgender officers in the military.

“We’re talking about talented Americans who are serving with distinction or who want the opportunity to serve,” Carter said in his announcement of the transgender policy.

“We can’t allow barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications [to] prevent us from recruiting and retaining those who can best accomplish the mission.”

“It is with deep and profound sadness that the family of former Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter shares that Secretary Carter passed away Monday evening in Boston after a sudden cardiac event at the age of 68,” his family said in a statement.

“He devoted his professional life to the national security of the United States and teaching students about international affairs,” the statement continued.

“He was a beloved husband, father, mentor, and friend. His sudden loss will be felt by all who knew him.”

Carter held multiple roles in the Obama administration. He served first as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition.

Then he served as Deputy Secretary of Defense until December 2013.

He replaced Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense in In February 2015.

Carter was awarded the DOD Distinguished Public Service Medal five times. He received the CJCS Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Defense Intelligence Medal.

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