WASHINGTON: Ashton Carter to Replace Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary [UPDATE]
Obama Makes Change at the Pentagon.
UPDATES with Obama announcing selection of Ashton Carter to be next Secretary of Defense — subject to Senate confirmation.
It’s official, President Barack Obama has picked veteran Pentagon official Ashton Carter as his nominee to succeed Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
In remarks at the White House, Obama characterized Carter as someone who knows the Defense Department “inside and out.” The president added that Carter would “hit the ground running” if the Senate confirms the nomination — which most observers expect.
Carter was deputy defense secretary under Leon Panetta, but Obama passed over him in early 2013 to tap Hagel as SecDef. Numerous news outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times indicated earlier this week that Carter was Obama’s choice this time around.
While he has never served in the military, Carter held key posts in the Clinton and Obama administrations at the Pentagon. In addition to serving as the No. 2 official at the Pentagon from October 2011 to December 2013, Carter, 60, has served as the Pentagon’s chief of acquisition, technology and logistics – the head weapons buyer for the military.
“As a top member of our Pentagon team for the first five years of my presidency, including two years as deputy secretary, he was at the table in he Situation Room; he was by my side navigating complex security challenges that we were confronting,” Obama said.
Carter is known for a keen, well-educated mind – he has a doctorate from Oxford in theoretical physics and degrees in physics and medieval history from Yale. Your 4GWAR editor was impressed by Carter’s candor, intelligence and laid-back but articulate manner at the 2013 Aspen Security Forum, explaining the expansion of cyber security in the wake of the mess caused by the National Security Agency revelations and other disclosures by rogue contractor Edward Snowden.
While the White House hasn’t confirmed Carter’s nomination, the choice isn’t expected to run into much opposition on Capitol Hill. From the moment Hagel’s resignation was announced last month, Carter was among the names Washington insiders considered most likely for the post. The reported front-runner, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, took her name out of contention, as did Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and former Army Ranger who sits on the Armed Services Committee.
The fact that Hagel’s departure was announced without a successor standing by, surprised Washington pundits, who speculated that it showed more disorder in an Obama White House, contending with a shooting war in Iraq, Russian belligerence, global jihad and Taliban resurgence while the United States is winding down its combat role in Afghanistan – all with less money from Congress.
But CNN reported that Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, declined to accommodate his resignation announcement until the White House settled on a nominee. On Thursday (December 4) Hagel discounted reports that he resigned over differences with Obama, Reuters and other news outlets report. However, Hagel did not attend today’s White House event with Carter, according to The Hill.
All we can say is … Stay tuned.
Entry filed under: Counter Terrorism, Iraq, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Washington. Tags: Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Army, Ashton Carter, Counter Insurgency, counter terrorism, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Iraq, Pentagon, Russia, soft power, Topics, U.S. Defense Department.