Biden recalls ex-Defense chief Ash Carter as ‘force of nature’ at memorial service


President Biden on Thursday eulogized former Defense Secretary Ash Carter as an innovative public servant who advanced the military’s strength and diversity through his work.

Biden spoke at a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral for Carter, who died in October after a sudden heart attack. He was 68.

“This is beyond my capacity to accurately assess what an incredible man Ash was,” Biden said. “Ash was a force. He was a force of nature. His genius was evident, his integrity unfailing and his commitment to service before self was literally inspiring.”

Carter started his career as a physicist and spent decades serving in the Pentagon, ultimately leading the Defense Department from 2015 to 2017 while Biden was vice president. During that time, Carter oversaw efforts to increase nuclear deterrence, manage emerging technologies and strategize the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda.

Carter also tackled numerous personnel matters during his tenure, including ending a ban on transgender officers in the military and opening all military positions to women in 2016 — the first time in U.S. history that women could enter certain combat roles previously only open to men. 

Biden on Thursday argued the military had been made “stronger and more inclusive by Ash’s principles and convictions.”

“I stand today as commander in chief of, as Ash always said, the finest fighting force the world has ever known, and that is not hyperbole,” Biden said.

The president highlighted Carter’s analytical approach to the job as well, praising his ability to innovate and come up with ways to better equip troops with what they needed to succeed and be safe. He specifically pointed to Carter’s focus on quickly delivering devices that could detect roadside explosives.

“Ash had an unmistakable commitment to his troops who put their lives on the line for our country every single day. Ash understood to his core that we have a sacred obligation to give them what they need and the support they need when we send them into harm’s way.”

Tags Ash Carter Ashton Carter Biden Defense Department Joe Biden

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