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Statement of President Joe Biden on the Passing of Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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. 

Ash Carter was a great American of the utmost integrity.

May God bless him.

May God protect the troops Ash Carter served and loved.

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