President nominates Ashton Carter to succeed Chuck Hagel

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden listen to Ashton Carter's remarks after the President announced the nomination of Carter to serve as Defense Secretary, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden listen to Ashton Carter's remarks after the President announced the nomination of Carter to serve as Defense Secretary, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

DECEMBER 5, 2014 — President Obama today announced his nomination of former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.

To a large extent, the Secretary of Defense is ultimately the U.S. shipbuilding industry's largest customer—something that was underscored back in February when outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said he had reservations about the Littoral Combat Ship program and had directed the Navy to submit alternative proposals to procure a "small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate."

Shipbuilders may hope that Mr. Carter will be a little less quirky.

The New York Times says he is "a physicist and national security centrist who may advocate a stronger use of American power" and that he is expected to face smooth confirmation hearings from Senate Republicans, who say they foresee no opposition to him.

"Assertive and intellectual, Mr. Carter, is a sharp contrast to Chuck Hagel, the current defense secretary, who was seen as passive and who submitted his resignation under pressure last week," says the Times, calling Mr. Carter "more like Robert M. Gates, the president’s first defense secretary."

"Unlike Mr. Hagel," says the Times, "Mr. Carter comes to the job with a deep knowledge of the vast department. He worked in the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, returned as the chief weapons buyer under Mr. Gates, and served as deputy defense secretary, the No. 2 position, under Leon E. Panetta and Mr. Hagel. In that job, he served as the chief operating officer for more than two million uniformed and civilian employees. He would face little in the way of a learning curve when it comes to the Pentagon’s challenges in a time of shrinking budgets."

Here's what the nominee's Department of Defense bio says:

Ashton B. Carter served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense from October 2011 to December 2013.

Previously, Dr. Carter served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from April 2009 until October 2011.  As Under Secretary, Dr. Carter led the Department’s efforts to accelerate the fulfillment of urgent operational needs; increase the Department’s buying power; and strengthen the nation¹s defenses against emerging threats.

Over the course of his career in public service, Dr. Carter has four times been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal.  For his contributions to intelligence, Dr. Carter was awarded the Defense Intelligence Medal.

Dr. Carter earned bachelor's degrees in physics and in medieval history from Yale University, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and received his doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Prior to his most recent government service, Dr. Carter was chair of the International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Co-Director of the Preventive Defense Project.   Dr. Carter was also Senior Partner at Global Technology Partners, a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, a member of the Board of Trustees of the MITRE Corporation and the Advisory Boards of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories and the Draper Laboratory, and an advisor to Goldman Sachs.

During the Clinton Administration, Dr. Carter was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.  From 1990 until 1993, Dr. Carter was Director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Chairman of the Editorial Board of International Security.  Previously, he held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and Rockefeller University.

Dr. Carter is a member of the President’s Management Council and the National Council on Federal-Labor-Management Relations. He has previously served on the White House Government Accountability and Transparency Board, the Defense Science Board, the Defense Policy Board, the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, and the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States.  

Dr. Carter is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Diplomacy and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Physical Society.

In addition to authoring articles, scientific publications, government studies, and Congressional testimonies, Dr. Carter has co-edited and co-authored 11 books.

Dr. Carter is married to Stephanie Carter and has two grown children.

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