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Getting a Grip on the Pentagon

Barry Ritholtz

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- How do you wrestle an unwieldy, $700 billion behemoth into submission?  That was the challenge facing Ash Carter, former secretary of the Department of Defense and this week's guest on Masters in Business.

Carter, who has worked with every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, says his background in theoretical physics and medieval history helped him understand how to maneuver through the labyrinthine systems of the Pentagon bureaucracy. He created processes to improve purchasing efficiency, including incentives and penalties for major weapons manufacturers. He also brought talent from Silicon Valley to the Pentagon to beef up its technological capabilities.

Carter describes his role after 9/11 in coordinating U.S. intelligence and why he opposed creating a separate bureaucracy in the Department of Homeland Security. He preferred instead a coordinated intelligence, defense and law-enforcement standing joint operation.

He is author of 11 books on military strategy, including most recently, "Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon."

His favorite books can be seen here; a transcript of our conversation is here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Next week, we speak with Ilana Weinstein, founder and chief executive officer of IDW Group, a leading consulting and hiring boutique for hedge funds, private equity and family offices.

To contact the author of this story: Barry Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

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