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Former Obama Defense Secretary Ash Carter Dies Suddenly of ‘Cardiac Event’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Ashton Carter, the former Secretary of Defense for former President Obama, has tragically died unexpectedly.

More commonly known as Ash Carter, he was the head of the Defense Department from February 2015 to January 2017.

His family said that he died from a “sudden cardiac event” on Monday night in Boston, CNN reported.

“Today we mourn the passing of former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and celebrate a leader who left America—and the world—safer through his lifetime of service. Michelle and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to Ash’s wife, children, and all those who loved him,” the former president said.

President Joe Biden, who was vice president when Carter served, gave his condolences.

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“Integrity.

When I think of Ash Carter, I think of a man of extraordinary integrity. Honest. Principled.  Guided by a strong, steady moral compass and a vision of using his life for public purpose,” the president said.

“Ash Carter was born a patriot.  A physicist and national security leader across decades, he served with immense distinction at every level of civilian leadership at the Department of Defense, including as our nation’s 25th Secretary of Defense.

“I was Vice President at the time, and 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,” he said.

“Ash was a leader on all the major national security issues of our times – from nuclear deterrence to proliferation prevention to missile defense to emerging technology challenges to the fight against Al Qaida and ISIS. He opened every field of military service to women and protected the rights of transgender service members.

“His public contributions were amplified by his many years at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he inspired and mentored the next generation of national security leaders. As President, I continued to rely on his expertise through his presence on my Council of Advisors on Science and Technology,” the president said.

“Above all, Ash understood the sacred obligation we have to our servicemembers, veterans, and their families. He was relentless in his pursuit of technology solutions for our warfighters, rapidly accelerating delivery of mine resistant vehicles to our troops to protect them from improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.  His work saved countless lives and limbs. On many weekends Ash and his beloved wife Stephanie would quietly visit wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  He did so out of the spotlight, demonstrating the personal integrity and sense of duty that distinguished him throughout his life.

“Jill and I grieve with the entire Carter family, including Stephanie, Will, and Ava, and countless friends and colleagues across the world who are mourning this sudden loss of a great American,” he said.

“Ash Carter was a great American of the utmost integrity. May God bless him. May God protect the troops Ash Carter served and loved,” he said.

Other Republicans and Democrats mourned his death.

“Ash Carter was a friend of many years, an esteemed colleague and a patriot who served this nation with distinction. His dedication, extraordinary skill and intellect were his hallmarks and his loss is a great one that will be felt by many. Rest in peace my dear friend,” former Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said.

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“Mika and I are so sad to hear of Secretary Ash Carter’s passing. America was blessed to have him serve as Secretary of Defense. Our prayers are with Stephanie and the Carter family. Thank you for your leadership and service to America, Mr. Secretary,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said.

“A friend and former colleague, Ash Carter was a visionary leader, a brilliant mind, and an incredibly decent person. I send my condolences to his wife Stephanie, his children, and his entire family,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

CNN reported.

In leading the Pentagon, Carter oversaw the final years of US involvement in Afghanistan under Obama’s presidency and US efforts to combat the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, which included the deployment of US troops. His tenure also saw efforts to expand the available roles of women in combat as well as lifting a ban on transgender people being able to serve openly.

Taking over from Chuck Hagel, who was forced out as defense secretary in November 2014, Carter was immediately tasked with addressing the rise of ISIS, which by then had taken significant territory in Iraq. Although Obama had made withdrawing US military forces from Iraq a key priority of his foreign policy, he ultimately recommitted US troops to the country to deal with the terrorist group.

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