New SecDef Sworn in; Biden Gets Creepy with Carter's Wife

 

Ashton Carter was sworn in as secretary of Defense today with a pledge to help guide President Obama in a wise national security direction and with a little creepiness from Vice President Biden.

During a 20-minute ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Biden lauded Carter as a “profoundly capable manager," singling out how he secured "protective undergarments" and mine-resistant vehicles for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Biden got cozy with Carter's wife, Stephanie, while the new SecDef outlined a bit of his vision.

In a message released to Defense Department staff, Carter said he has three top priorities.

"Our first priority is helping the president make the best possible national security decisions for protecting our country and then implementing those decisions with our department's long-admired excellence," he said.

Chuck Hagel's term as Defense secretary ended after a reported disagreement with the president on policy, and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) has warned Carter, who served under 11 secretaries of Defense in more than 30 years at the Pentagon, will not have influence in the administration.

"We confront a turbulent and dangerous world: continuing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, and the malignant and savage terrorism emanating from it; an ongoing conflict in Afghanistan; a reversion to archaic security thinking in parts of Europe; tensions in the Asia-Pacific; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and intensifying threats in cyberspace," Carter said. "In addressing these challenges, I have pledged to provide the president my most candid strategic advice. I will count on your experience and expertise as I formulate that advice. I will also ensure the president receives candid professional military advice."

The second priority is "ensuring the strength and health of you who make up the greatest fighting force the world has ever known our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, civilians, and contractors all around the world."

"I will do that by focusing on the well-being, safety, and dignity of each of you and your families. I will ensure your training and equipment are as superb as you are. And I pledge to make decisions about sending you into harm's way with the greatest reflection and utmost care because this is my highest responsibility as secretary of Defense," he said.

"Honoring all these commitments also requires us to focus on building the force of the future, which is my third priority... To win support from our fellow citizens for the resources we need, we must show that we can make better use of every taxpayer dollar. That means a leaner organization, less overhead, and reforming our business and acquisition practices. It also means embracing the future and embracing change."