Carter Pledges ‘Earnest Efforts’ If Confirmed as Deputy
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2011 If confirmed as the new deputy defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter told senators today, he will expand on his efforts to answer the needs of warfighters, and help the Defense Department get more for its money.
Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics since 2009, testified here before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is considering his nomination by President Barack Obama to become the next deputy secretary of defense, replacing William J. Lynn III, who plans to leave later this year.
If confirmed, Carter said, he looks forward to continuing to serve the president and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, and work with the chairman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff “to serve the troops who serve us, and to leave a more secure world for our children.”
“I have served in one way or another almost every secretary of defense since Caspar Weinberger,” Carter told the senators, adding that he feels fortunate to be a member of the Pentagon team led by former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, as well as Panetta and Lynn.
Carter said he has had “two overriding priorities” as undersecretary.
“The first has been to wake up every morning and ask myself what my office can do to support our troops in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else in the world they are deployed, he said.
His office sought to supply better protection against improvised explosive devices, better reconnaissance and surveillance capability, and better logistics support, Carter said, “on [the warfighters’] timetable and not on the timetable of the Pentagon’s frequently ponderous acquisition and budgeting process.”
His second priority, the undersecretary said, “has been to deliver better buying power to the taxpayers and warfighters for their defense dollars, working closely with our acquisition professionals, our industry partners and the Congress.”
That effort began with Congress’s 2009 Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act, Carter noted, and with separate efforts that he and Gates worked on well in advance of the current budget crunch.
“But the performance of the system is, in my judgment, still not acceptable,” he said.
Carter said additional actions must be taken to get better value for the defense dollar.
“This is something the American taxpayer should expect,” he added, “no matter what the defense budget is. But it becomes even more urgent in the serious budget predicament that faces us.”
Like Panetta, Carter said, “I do not believe we need to choose between strong fiscal discipline and strong national defense.”
If confirmed, he said, “these two priorities will continue, but many others will be added.”
Panetta expects his deputy to be prepared to act and speak in his stead at all times, the undersecretary said.
“He expects the deputy to shape an orderly, deliberative process for him so that he can make decisions and advise the president based on careful consideration of accurate management information and a full range of options,” Carter added.
The secretary also expects his deputy to manage the budget process down to a finite number of key issues, he said, “and to manage other department-wide matters that require his attention only for final decisions of greatest consequence.”
Finally, Carter said, “Secretary Panetta expects all this to be done with the same heart, the same integrity and the same dedication to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that he brings to the job.”
In all these tasks, Carter told the senators, “I pledge to Secretary Panetta and to this committee, if confirmed, my most earnest efforts.”