The Iron Man

Known for wrangling budgets and weapons contracts, he is one of the brightest minds in the national security establishment of the US.

For his services, he was awarded four times the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, as well as the Defense Intelligence Medal.

From a Rhodes Scholar to a Pentagon veteran, this technocrat is a nuclear weapon specialist.


Ashton Baldwin Carter was born on September 24, 1954 in Philadelphia. His first job was at a carwash at the age of 11.

In 1972, Carter graduated from Abington High School where he was the president of the honor society. He worked as a hospital attendant, a mate on a fishing boat and a counselor on a suicide prevention hotline.

He got his bachelor’s degrees in physics and medieval history from Yale University and received his doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University.

A postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University, he has also served on the advisory boards of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories and the Draper Laboratory.


For three years from 1990, Carter was director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

He got his start in government during the Clinton administration. Between 1993 and 1995, Carter held an assistant secretary of defense position on international security.  

His Pentagon responsibilities encompassed: countering weapons of mass destruction worldwide, oversight of the US nuclear arsenal and missile defense program and control over sensitive US exports.

Carter directed military planning during the 1994 crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program; was instrumental in removing all nuclear weapons from the territories of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.

 He managed the multi-billion dollar Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to support elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of the former Soviet Union.

From 2009 to 2011, he bought weapons and scaled back or canceled outdated programs as the Pentagon’s under secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Carter served from 2011 to 2013 as deputy defense secretary, the No. 2 position, in which he managed a $600 billion annual budget, more than two million uniformed and civilian employees and the beginning of what is scheduled to be a decade of $500 billion in budget cuts. 

In addition to authoring numerous scientific publications, government studies, and Congressional testimonies, Carter co-edited and co-authored 11 books.

Personal Life

Carter is married to Stephanie Carter and has two children.


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