Ashton Carter, the former theoretical physicist who was briefly second-in-command at the Pentagon under Chuck Hagel, will be Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed Hagel as Secretary of Defence, according to multiple outlets, initially reported by CNN and confirmed by Bloomberg.
“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.
The selection comes after a number of 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 ten months at Deputy Secretary of Defence under Hagel, but resigned in October of 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 helped to push cyber-security as a national security priority.
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 November 24th, reportedly over disagreements with the White House over its handing of the US-led campaign against ISIS, 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.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.