Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama’s next pick to become secretary of defense, already has an established reputation around Washington, D.C., where he is known as an "uber-wonk" and the "superhero of sequestration," according to The Hill
He last served as deputy secretary of defense from October 2011 to December 2013, where he oversaw "a $600 billion annual budget, more than two million uniformed and civilian employees and the beginning of what is scheduled to be a decade of $500 billion in budget cuts," known as sequester, The New York Times
Carter’s impressive resume includes an undergraduate degree in physics and medieval history from Yale, where he wrote his senior thesis on "the use of Latin by monastic writers to describe the world of 12th-century Flanders," according to The Times.
He went on to receive a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Carter was a longtime member of the Harvard faculty and now lectures at Stanford, The Times reports.
Carter’s formal nomination is expected in the coming days and according to numerous reports, he has a plethora of fans — including Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who coined the "uber-wonk" and "superhero of sequestration" descriptors — and no known detractors on either side of the aisle.
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who is expected to be the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Hill that unlike current Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was forced out of the job for reportedly being too passive, Carter has "established a record of service there."
While McCain doesn’t question Carter’s credentials, he’s skeptical about whether he can penetrate the notoriously insular Obama White House.
"Look, he’s qualified. He’s been in the Pentagon, and I might ask him how much influence he thinks he’s going to have on decision making, because it will be none," McCain said.
McCain has said that Hagel grew "very frustrated with the micromanagement of the Obama White House
and the fact that he never was really brought into that real tight circle."
Carter should anticipate a pointed confirmation hearing where "GOP senators are expected to bombard the Defense nominee with questions about Obama’s foreign policy, particularly when it comes to the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," according to The Hill.
"I think that the next defense secretary has to be able to explain his views or her views of what the president’s policy is and how you carry out that policy," said Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Another hurdle, according to The Times, is that Carter lacks a close personal relationship with the president.
"But he has worked to develop relations with the White House, former colleagues said, and in particular has cultivated Denis R. McDonough, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, even visiting wounded service members with him," The Times said.
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