Ashton Carter, the former theoretical physicist who was briefly second-in-command at the Pentagon under Chuck Hagel, will be President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed Hagel as secretary of defence, Bloomberg TV reports.
“Barring any last minute complications, Ash Carter will be President Barack Obama’s choice as the new Secretary of Defence,” several US administration officials reportedly told CNN last week.
The selection comes after numerous front-runners for the job took themselves out of consideration, including former Pentagon policy head Michele Flournoy and Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island).
Carter was “responsible for the day-to-day management” of the Defence Department’s 2.2 million employees during his 10 months as deputy secretary of defence under Hagel, but he resigned in October 2013 — possibly because of his discomfort with being passed over for the Pentagon’s top job at the beginning of Obama’s second term.
During the first Obama administration, Carter spent two years as “the Pentagon’s technology and weapons-buying chief,” according to Fox News. Carter was influential in reorganising US Cyber Command during his time at the Pentagon, and he helped to push cybersecurity as a priority for national security.
Carter has largely served in behind-the-scenes-type roles as the Pentagon, including as a high-ranking international security policy official at the Defence Department under President Bill Clinton. Although likely a somewhat unknown figure outside of political circles, Carter is widely considered to be qualified for the job and has the approval of at least one Republican vocal on national security issues: On Nov. 24, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called Carter as well as Reed and Flournoy “solid choices for [an] important position.”
Hagel was reportedly forced to resign on Nov. 24 over disagreements with the White House regarding its handing of the US-led campaign against the Islamic State militant group, along with more general policy disagreements over the US approach to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
“We have no presidential personnel announcements at this time, and not going to speculate on any before the president announces it,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told Business Insider.
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