Former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has died unexpectedly at the age of 68, according to the family.
Carter died Monday night in Boston of a “sudden heart attack”.
From February 2015 to January 2017, he was Secretary of Defense under former President Barack Obama.
Carter, who attended Yale University and was a Rhodes scholar, joined the Department of Defense under former President Bill Clinton. He later served as Deputy Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics from 2009 to 2011 and Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013.
He was nominated in December 2014 to replace Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. He was confirmed by the Senate 93-5 in February 2015.
“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 Defense Ministry and the country’s technology community,” his family said in a statement. “While he was known for his keen knowledge of military technology, nuclear weapons and international affairs, Secretary Carter loved nothing more than to spend time with the troops and regularly travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit US troops. [with his wife Stephanie].”
He was survived by his wife and two children, Ava and Will.
In addition to leading the U.S. offensive against ISIS, Carter also oversaw a stint at the Department of Defense that lifted all restrictions on women serving in combat and lifted a ban on transgender members of the military, a rule later passed by the United States Army. then president was destroyed. Donald Trump.
Carter joined the Belfer Center at Harvard University’s Kennedy School after leaving the government, where he served as its director for the past five years. He had taught at the Kennedy School in the 1980s, before joining the US government.
Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, wrote of his friend: “I want to express my gratitude for his insight and wisdom, his unwavering commitment to making the world a better place, his confidence that the Kennedy School can make a significant difference in the world, his generous spirit towards his students and colleagues, and his warm and gracious friendship with me. I will miss him so much.”
Mark Osborne of ABC News contributed to this report.