President Obama has decided to nominate the former deputy defense secretary Ashton B. Carter (D) to be the next defense secretary after the announcement of Chuck Hagel’s resignation last week. The New York Times reports that the announcement comes from senior administration officials. An official announcement is expected to be released once the White House is finished vetting Carter.
Carter has long experience within the Pentagon and was one of the primary candidates for the position. Unlike Hagel, Carter has had no experience in the military or Congress, but nonetheless has strong ties in the defense community.
Carter served as deputy defense secretary from October 2011 to December 2013 and as the Pentagon’s technology and weapons buying chief. Carter has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Carter is notable for championing the concept of “preventative defense” along with former defense secretary William Perry. The concept entails using diplomatic means to preclude foreign threats to the United States.
President Obama’s appointment will require approval from the Republican-led Senate. However, many Republican congressional leaders have already prepared statements praising Carter.
Vocal support also comes from within the Whitehouse, as spokesman Josh Earnest commended Carter, saying that he “served the president and the American people well” and that “this is an indication that he fulfills some of the criteria that we’ve discussed in the past,” making him “somebody who definitely deserves… strong bipartisan support for his previous service in government.”
Carter is set to replace the soon-to-be former defense secretary Chuck Hagel, who resigned his position after receiving pressure from the Obama administration. Hagel, who was the sole Republican on the president’s national security team, was often criticized for being inactive in cabinet meetings, and was overall cited as a poor fit in the administration. President Obama commented that it is an “appropriate time for [Hagel] to complete his service”.
Former secretary of defense Michèle A. Flournoy and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) were also up for nomination for the position, but have both declined to be considered. A senior administration official said that while the president could still change his mind, Carter remains the most likely choice for defense secretary.
President Obama is expected to officially announce his decision as early as the end of this week.