President Biden is set to attend a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral Thursday to honor the late Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
Carter, who died in October of a heart attack at age 68, served under President Obama from 2015 until January 2017.
During his 35-year career at the Pentagon, Carter would cite as one of his proudest accomplishments having sped up the design and production of a new up-armored vehicle to better protect troops against roadside bombs. More than 24,000 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles were manufactured and shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan during Carter’s tenure.
However, two personnel policies would mark Carter’s legacy: opening all combat roles to women and allowing transgender personnel to serve.
Since Carter’s announcement making all combat roles available to both sexes as of January 2016, women have broken through with a variety of achievements in areas that were previously unavailable to them, including the first women to graduate U.S. Army Ranger School, the first woman Army infantry officer, the first woman Army Green Beret and the first woman to graduate Naval Special Warfare training.
In June 2016, Carter ended the ban on transgender troops.
President Trump reinstated a ban on transgender troops in 2017, but Biden overturned Trump’s policy in 2021, once again allowing transgender troops to serve openly.
“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,” Biden had said in October upon Carter’s passing.