News National/International

Obama Taps Ashton Carter As Defense Secretary Nominee


President Obama named Ashton Carter, a former No. 2 Pentagon official, as his pick to succeed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Obama described Carter today as one of the "nation's foremost national security leaders."

Carter called the nomination an "honor and a privilege."

He said he accepted the offer because of "the seriousness of the strategic challenges we face, but also the bright opportunities that exist for America if we grab hold of them."

He said, if confirmed, he will give Obama "candid" strategic and military advice.

Carter's name began to surface this week as a possible replacement for Hagel, who announced Nov. 24 that he was stepping down once a successor was confirmed. NPR's Eyder Peralta noted that Carter, though unknown to the public, is "regarded as having a great intellect."

He is expected to enjoy bipartisan support during the nominating process.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Olka., said earlier this week that he supports Carter "very strongly."

If confirmed, Carter will be Obama's fourth defense secretary [after Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Hagel].

A Rhodes scholar, Carter has a doctoral degree in theoretical physics from Oxford University. He would inherit the Pentagon as the U.S. faces many global challenges, including the fight against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria, a resurgent Russia and unrest in other parts of the world. He also faces newer challenges such as cyberthreats.