• Obama Nominates Ashton Carter as New Secretary of Defense
  • February 13, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • President Obama has nominated Ashton Carter to be the next defense secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Carter would succeed Chuck Hagel, who announced his resignation last week.

    Carter was previously the deputy defense secretary, serving from October 2011 to December 2013 under secretaries Hagel and Leon Panetta. Before that, he was in charge of procurement for the Pentagon.

    Republican Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he's in favor of the nomination. "I support it very strongly. I've known him for a long time. ...I can't imagine there'll be significant opposition."

    "He would be a great choice," said Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, currently the committee's chairman.

    Sen. John McCain, who will likely take over as chairman in January, also said he would support Carter. He said he expects a smooth confirmation process, but wants to put Carter through full questioning. Carter is "qualified" for the job, McCain said, but the confirmation hearings will likely center on the administration's strategy against the Islamic State rather than on Carter's background.

    When he became deputy secretary in 2011, Carter was charged with overseeing military budget cuts, experience that will likely come in handy as the military faces another round of sequestration. He also was responsible for managing the Pentagon's 2.2 million employees. Previously, when he was assistant secretary of defense for international security policy under President Clinton, Carter played an active role in nuclear arms control issues.

    Sen. Ted Cruz, who has suggested blocking executive nominees over Obama's use of executive action on immigration, said last week that he wouldn't stand in the way of a defense secretary successor because that position is vital to national security.

    Carter has a background in academia in addition to his work in government. He was chair of Harvard's International and Global Affairs faculty and holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes scholar.