Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter died Monday evening in Boston, according to a statement from his family. He was 68.
Carter, who died of a “sudden cardiac event,” served as defense secretary during the Obama administration from February 2015 to January 2017. He later served as director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
Prior to serving as defense secretary, Carter held multiple senior positions at the Pentagon including deputy secretary and under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. He was instrumental in the creation of the Strategic Capabilities Office and the Defense Innovation Unit. Carter also oversaw the rapid procurement and fielding tens of thousands of mine resistant ambush protected vehicles during the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MRAPs are credited with saving the lives of thousands of troops whose vehicles were struck by improvised explosives devices. A small model MRAP is depicted next to Carter in his official portrait at the Pentagon.
“As secretary, he launched the successful campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, opened all combat positions to women, and forged new connections between the Department of Defense and the nation’s technology community,” according to his family’s statement. “While he was known for his keen understanding of military technology, nuclear weapons, and international affairs, Secretary Carter loved nothing more than spending time with the troops, making frequent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit U.S forces with his wife Stephanie."