Ash Carter Shares Lessons From His 'Lifetime Of Leadership' In The Pentagon
With David Folkenflik
Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter on what goes on behind the five walls of the Pentagon and what he sees as threats now.
Ash Carter, former secretary of defense under President Obama. Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Author of “Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon.”
From The Reading List
CBS: “Why former Defense Secretary Ash Carter wouldn’t work for Trump” — “While he previously swore he would stay outside of politics, former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter says he wouldn’t work for President Trump. Carter describes the commander-in-chief and his administration in his new book ‘inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon’ as ‘offensive, racist and divisive.’
“‘It’s not politics, it’s personal conduct,’ Carter said on ‘CBS This Morning’ on Monday. Carter explained that he used to tell officers and soldiers in the military that they ‘needed to behave themselves’ and would have fired an officer for acting as the president has.
“‘It’s not just the president, it’s the kind of behavior and personal conduct that you see everywhere in Washington today is not the kind of thing we tolerated in the military. I fired people for doing that and subordinates fired people for doing even less,’ Carter said.
“Carter, who first began working for the Department of Defense in 1981, said he would not work under Mr. Trump if asked because he ‘wouldn’t know how to help him.’ The Obama-era Defense chief said Mr. Trump appears to not take the advice of his Cabinet secretaries. That lack of concern for expert opinion is exactly what led Carter’s successor, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, to step down from the post in December, who cited vast differences in viewpoints with Mr. Trump as a sticking point.”
The Atlantic: “Why I Didn’t Tolerate Hairsplitting in War” — “Joshua Wheeler became famous as the first American soldier to die in the fight against the Islamic State—ISIS. But there’s more to his story than most people know.
“Wheeler grew up in a poor, troubled family in rural eastern Oklahoma, the oldest of five kids. After high school, he faced the same choice as most of his fellow graduates: He could look for work in the oil business, or he could join the military. Josh chose the Army. In 1997, two years after he’d enlisted, he joined the elite Rangers and later was assigned to Army Special Operations Command, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“In October 2015, Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was stationed in Iraq. At that point, U.S. forces were no longer doing all the fighting in that troubled part of the world. Instead, they were engaged in training and support of local forces battling against the militants of ISIS. One day, the Kurdish commandos Wheeler was working with received a tip: A nearby compound controlled by ISIS contained some 70 local hostages, held prisoner for cooperating with Iraqi government officials. Now it appeared that the execution of those hostages was imminent—in fact, aerial photos showed a newly dug mass grave near the compound, waiting for their bodies.
“Each weekday evening, get an overview of the day’s biggest news, along with fascinating ideas, images, and voices.
“On October 22, the Kurdish commandos swung into action, supported by their U.S. special-operations partners. They launched a helicopter raid on the compound, determined to rescue the hostages. Wheeler and a team of 10 to 20 U.S. fighters went along to provide intelligence and communications support. But the raid went wrong. An effort by the commandos to blast a hole in the compound’s outer wall failed. Gunfire immediately broke out. It was obvious that the commandos were in trouble.
“Wheeler and his men did what American fighters do—they ran toward the sound of the guns. When the battle ended, the hostages had been freed. A few of the Iraqi commandos were injured. Only one rescuer died in the operation—Joshua Wheeler.”
Bloomberg: “Ash Carter: Warfare Is Going to Change” — “Former U.S. Defense Secretary & ‘Inside the Five-Sided Box’ author Ash Carter discusses the changing face of war and rising U.S.-Iran tensions. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Alix Steel and David Westin on ‘Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas.’ ”
Adam Waller produced this hour for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.