Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter plans to leave his post at the Pentagon in early December after two years on the job, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday.

Hagel said in a statement he met with Carter earlier in the day and “reluctantly” accepted his resignation that will be effective Dec. 4. Pentagon spokesman George Little said in subsequent statement the decision "to depart the Pentagon later this year was Deputy Secretary Carter’s and his alone."

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Photo by DoD.

Carter served as the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer from 2009 until October 2011, when he left the position now held by Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

As undersecretary Carter promoted the Better Buying Power initiative to increase the effectiveness of the acquisition process and to help ensure best value in contracting. Kendall has continued to update the initiative.

After becoming deputy secretary, Carter was tapped by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to lead the Pentagon effort to reform and expedite the process of exporting weapons systems to close allies and friendly nations, with a specific focus on India.

“He possesses an unparalleled knowledge of every facet of America’s defense enterprise, having worked directly and indirectly for eleven secretaries of defense over the course of his storied career,” Hagel said.

“I will always be grateful that Ash was willing to stay on and serve as my deputy secretary,” Hagel added. “I have continually relied upon Ash to help solve the toughest challenges facing the Department of Defense.”

Hagel also credited Carter for “spearheading” the Pentagon’s effort to manage the “unprecedented” budget uncertainly and sequestration cuts currently engulfing Washington.

“Ash’s most recent tour of the Department will be especially remembered for his tremendous efforts to provide more agile and effective support for our warfighters and their families,” Hagel said. “His compassion, love, and determination to overcome any and all bureaucratic obstacles earned him their abiding respect and appreciation.”