Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

Ashton Carter is High on List of Possible Successors to Outgoing Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has risen to the top of the list of possible successors to outgoing Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel. The choice of candidates has been difficult for President Obama. Two of the prior candidates considered high on the president’s short list all withdrew their names from consideration within 24 hours of their names being floated in the press. 

However, it appears that Carter would stand a very good chance of getting nominated by the GOP-led Senate after they take control of the chamber next month. For starters, he is highly regarded by top military commanders whose recommendations would weigh heavily with the GOP. He served as the department’s deputy secretary under both Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel. He is also said to be very skilled in managing large scale budgets which is essential given the “belt tightening” happening on Capitol Hill. In actuality, the Department of Defense is the only agency to actually incur deep budget cuts. Carter’s skills will be essential at managing the administration’s ongoing military initiative against ISIS while extending the US presence in Afghanistan. 

Brad Reifler notes that Carter has an impressive resume that includes being well-educated. His only apparent shortcoming is in terms of military service. He did not serve in the military. It should be noted that former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney did not serve in the military either. In fact, Cheney received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. Regardless, he led the DOD during the war to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation.

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