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Sequestration would force the Department of Defense to rethink much of its defense strategy, Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter told an audience at Duke University on Thursday.

Carter said the need to keep the department’s “fiscal house in order” after more than a decade of war and under the threat of sequestration has spurred an approach of rebalancing and innovation as DOD pivots to the Asia-Pacific region.

“We in the Department of Defense are at a moment of great strategic consequence and great strategic transition. We’re at the confluence of two great forces,” Carter said. “After almost 12 years of unrelenting and uninterrupted war in two particular places, Iraq and Afghanistan, that era is coming to an end.”

Carter said he also aims to shift the weight of intellectual effort to future challenges by continuing to invest in special operations forces, electronic warfare and space and cyber technology.

These investment areas, he said, will be best leveraged in the Asia-Pacific region, where a considerable amount of the U.S. future security and economic interests lie.