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On Wednesday, AEI hosted Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter for a discussion of the U.S. defense budget in a time of fiscal and strategic transition. As part of an ongoing tug-of-war between the executive branch and the U.S. House of Representatives, Carter took particular issue with congressional markups that — in what he called the "zero sum game" of budgeting — would impinge upon U.S. Department of Defense planning.
Sequestration — the congressional mechanism enacted by the 2011 Budget Control Act that would draw at least $500 billion from the U.S. defense budget — was another point of discussion. Carter called this process "irrational," indicating that it would have "devastating" consequences.
Carter likewise described the convergence of two factors: the 2011 Budget Control Act, which proposes its own cuts to defense spending, and the changing strategic environment. Carter concluded that the combination of these factors have the potential to bring about a change of direction within the Department of Defense and the defense industry.
The discussion of U.S. defense spending has taken on a new dimension because of the prospect of sequestration as well as the number of recent budgetary reductions in the U.S. Department of Defense — most notably evidenced in the 2011 Budget Control Act.
The Obama administration’s strategic “pivot” to Asia poses questions about how and where resources are to be allocated and about what type of military might be required for this process to take place. AEI’s Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies will host Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter for a timely discussion of U.S. defense budgets, of the changing strategic landscape in the U.S. and the force that this landscape demands.
Thomas Donnelly, AEI
Ashton B. Carter, U.S. Department of Defense
Question and Answer
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Ashton B. Carter is the U.S. deputy secretary of defense. Carter previously served as under secretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from April 2009 until October 2011. As under secretary, Carter led the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) efforts to accelerate the fulfillment of urgent operational needs, increase the DOD’s buying power and strengthen the nation’s defenses against weapons of mass destruction and other emerging threats. Prior to his most recent government service, Carter was chair of the International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and co-director of the Preventive Defense Project. Carter was also senior partner at Global Technology Partners, member of the board of trustees of the MITRE Corporation and the advisory boards of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratories and the Draper Laboratory as well as an adviser to Goldman Sachs. During the Clinton administration, Carter was assistant secretary of defense for International Security Policy. From 1990 to 1993, Carter was director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and chairman of the Editorial Board of International Security.
Thomas Donnelly is a defense and security policy analyst and the co-director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI. He is the co-author, with Frederick W. Kagan, of “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (2010). Among his recent books are: “Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power” (2008), co-authored with Frederick W. Kagan; “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (2007), co-edited with Gary J. Schmitt; “The Military We Need” (2005) and “Operation Iraqi Freedom: A Strategic Assessment” (2004). From 1995 to 1999, he was policy group director and a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services. Donnelly also served as a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is a former editor of Armed Forces Journal, Army Times and Defense News.