Reports: Obama to Nominate Carter as Next Secretary of Defense

By: David Bastawrous—Special Report College Associate

Senior White House officials say President Obama has decided to nominate Ashton Carter as the next Secretary of Defense, a number of news outlets are reporting. The New York Times reports that the administration will hold off on making the official announcement until at least the end of the week, as the vetting process is still underway.

Though a Yale and Oxford trained physicist by trade, Carter has previously worked the number 2 and 3 positions in the Pentagon after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Before serving as both Leon Panetta’s and Chuck Hagel’s deputy, he was the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. The role placed Carter at the helm of, among other things, managing the DOD’s stock of weaponry.  

Carter also has significant fiscal management experience within the DOD, as he was tasked with carrying out the 2012 $500 billion sequester cuts within the department.

Republican Senator Jim Inhoffe, a member of the Committee on Armed Services, today spoke of his support for Carter as the nominee.

“I’m very pleased he is going to be our Secretary of Defense,” Sen. Inhoffe told the AP, “I can’t imagine that he’s going to have opposition to his confirmation.”

The move comes as the President’s short list for the potential nominees got even shorter in recent days—top candidates including Michelle Flournoy, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and current Homeland Security Jeh Johnson all removed themselves from consideration.

Many defense analysts say the White House’s tendency to micromanage DOD initiatives as well as a breadth of immediate foreign policy issues to face leaves the position largely undesirable.

“It’s very unlikely you will get political visibility or credit for being the secretary,” Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the AP, “There are just too many problems and uncertainties.”

Carter would become the administration’s 4th Secretary of Defense in 6 years. 

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