President Obama has nominated Ashton B. Carter as Secretary of Defense. Carter will be the fourth Secretary of Defense to serve during the six years of the Obama Administration.
Carter replaces outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who held the position for only about one year.
"With a record of service that has spanned more than 30 years .... Ash is widely regarded as one our nation's national security leaders," Obama said.
As the new leader of the Pentagon, Carter knows the Department of Defense “inside and out,” according to Obama, and his diverse experience will enable him to “hit the ground running” on his first day, reports NBC News.
“It’s no exaggeration to say there are countless Americans who are alive today, in part because of Ash’s efforts,” Obama said.
The New York Times reports Obama has “embraced a physicist and national security centrist who may advocate a stronger use of American power” with Carter’s nomination.
Hagel, who was reportedly pressured into resigning, was not present at the announcement of Carter’s nomination.
“Ash is a patriot and a leader,” Hagel said in a written statement. “I strongly support his nomination.”
Prior to the Secretary of Defense nomination, Carter was in the No. 2 position at the Pentagon under Leon E. Panetta and Hagel. In that role, Carter was the chief operating officer for more than 2 million uniformed and civilian employees. In varying capacities, Carter has served under 11 defense secretaries during his career.
"I accepted (the position) because of the seriousness of the strategic challenges we face but also the bright opportunities that exist for America if we can come together," Carter said.
Carter said it was an honor to be nominated and that he plans to give the President “candid military advice.” This statement may be in response to criticism made by two of Obama’s former defense secretaries who said their opinions were given very little consideration in a so-called “tightly-controlled White House.”
“He is not somebody who can simply be counted on,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a national security expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “He will say what he thinks.”
The Senate must still confirm Carter’s appointment, and Obama said it should happen with “speed and dispatch.”