WASHINGTON, D.C.–President Obama officially nominated Ashton Carter as his fourth Secretary of Defense to succeed Chuck Hagel, the only Republican in the president’s national security team, who resigned under pressure from the White House.
During a Roosevelt Room ceremony, before a small audience of administration officials and a few members of Congress, Obama expressed admiration for Carter who is considered a well-liked technocrat respected by members of both parties.
“With a record of service that has spanned more than 30 years — as a public servant, as an advisor, as a scholar — Ash is rightly regarded as one of our nation’s foremost national security leaders,” the president said. “As a top member of our Pentagon team for the first five years of my presidency, including his two years as deputy secretary, he was at the table in the Situation Room. He was by my side navigating complex security challenges that we were confronting. I relied on his expertise, and I relied on his judgment.”
“Ash is also known by our allies and our friends around the world. Having served both Republican and Democratic Secretaries, he’s respected and trusted on both sides of the aisle,” added Obama.
The president acknowledged the challenges Carter will face as the next secretary of defense, including the end of combat operations in Afghanistan and the beginning of the advise and assist mission there; the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; and the military efforts to contain the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.
Carter, who will have to go through the Senate confirmation process, said he was honored to be nominated.
“I accepted the President’s offer to be nominated for Secretary of Defense because of my regard for his leadership. I accepted it because of the seriousness of the strategic challenges we face, but also the bright opportunities that exist for America if we can come together to grab hold of them,” he said.
Carter went on to highlight the “deep respect and abiding love” that him and his wife have for uniformed military personnel.
“Finally, to the greatest fighting force the world has ever known, to you, I pledge to keep faith with you and to serve our nation with the same unflinching dedication that you demonstrate every day,” he added.
Hagel was scheduled to attend the announcement, but backed out.
“The Secretary believes strongly that this day belongs to Ash Carter and his nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “As Secretary Hagel knows better than most, today is a day that is to celebrate Ash, his family, and all that he will accomplish. The Secretary is proud of Ash and of their friendship and does not want in any way to detract from or distract the proper focus of the day.”
Carter, 60, held the No. 2 position in the Pentagon as Deputy Secretary of Defense from October 2011 to December 2013, under Leon Panetta and then Hagel.
He also headed the Department of Defense technology and weapons-buying office at the beginning of the Obama administration.
Panetta and Robert Gates, who served as defense secretaries under Obama, have been critical of what they describe as micromanagement and interference in Pentagon matters coming from the White House.
Defense policy analysts told Breitbart News that Carter is top-notch technocrat who is well-liked across the political spectrum.
Carter is expected to smoothly sail through the Senate confirmation.
“If confirmed in this job, I pledge to you my most candid strategic advice,” he told the president. “And I pledge also that you will receive equally candid military advice.”
Mr. Carter does not have first-hand military experience. Outgoing Defense Secretary Hagel is the first enlisted combat veteran to hold the Pentagon chief position.