I offered odds of 3:2 that Ash Carter would be nominated as undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics and no one took them. Good thing, since he was officially nominated late this morning by President Obama.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said at a noon press conference that he hoped to hold a nomination hearing on Carter as soon as possible. Asked if he supported the nomination, Levin sounded lukewarm, saying he would go through the nomination process and see what he found.
Some in industry and the Pentagon's acquisition shop have been worried and quietly sniping about Carter's appointment, noting he has comparatively little acquisition experience. However, several sources told me over the last two days that Carter has actually done a fair amount of consulting work for industry from his Harvard perch and is more familiar with industry concerns and possibilities than one might guess from his background as a physicist, arms control expert and professor of international relations.
One very experienced Pentagon watcher praised Carter for his intelligence and grasp of the issues, saying industry may be frightened because Carter does not come bearing the baggage of an acquisition expert and may be willing to take tough decisions without first worrying about the effects it may have on a company. Of course, acquisition experts have not performed terribly well over the last decade since they often seemed unwilling to hold industry to the tough standards embodied in both existing acquisition policy and regulations.
Following is Carter's White House bio:
Carter, a physicist and current Chair of the International & Global Affairs faculty at the Kennedy School, served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy from 1993 to 1996. He 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, Kazakstan, and Belarus; directed the establishment of defense and intelligence relationships with the countries of the former Soviet Union when the Cold War ended; and participated in the negotiations that led to the deployment of Russian troops as part of the Bosnia Peace Plan Implementation Force. Dr. Carter managed the multi-billion dollar Cooperative Threat Reduction (Nunn-Lugar) program to support elimination of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of the former Soviet Union, including the secret removal of 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Kazakstan in the operation code-named Project Sapphire. Dr. Carter also directed the Nuclear Posture Review and oversaw the Department of Defense's (DOD's) Counterproliferation Initiative. He directed the reform of DOD's national security export controls. In 1997 Dr. Carter co-chaired the Catastrophic Terrorism Study Group with former CIA Director John M. Deutch, which urged greater attention to terrorism. From 1998 to 2000, he was deputy to William J. Perry in the North Korea Policy Review and traveled with him to Pyongyang. In 2001-2002, he served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism and advised on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Carter was twice awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award given by the Department. In addition to his current position at the Kennedy School, Carter is Co-Director (with former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry) of the Preventive Defense Project, a research collaboration of Harvard and Stanford Universities.