Obama Nominates Ashton Carter for Defense Secretary Pentagon vet will 'hit the ground running,' president says By Jenn Gidman, Newser Staff Posted Dec 5, 2014 10:23 AM CST 6 comments Comments This March 18, 2013, file photo shows Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter speaking at the US Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File) (Newser) – We're one step closer to finding Chuck Hagel's replacement: President Obama announced today he's nominating Pentagon ace Ashton Carter to take over as secretary of defense, the AP reports. Although some fear that Carter's insider status may hamper his ability to come up with creative solutions to challenging issues, others say his extensive expertise on a variety of subjects—including nuclear weaponry and the navigation of global hot spots—will make the transition seamless, the Wall Street Journal notes. "On day one, he'll be ready to hit the ground running," Obama said in his announcement this morning. For a scientist who's never served with the armed forces, Carter has had a storied defense career: He started out as Bill Clinton's assistant defense secretary in 1993, became undersecretary of defense in 2009, and served as deputy defense secretary from 2011 to 2013. Carter's experience will prove key, as he'd be entering a role faced with growing world threats—for example, Islamic militants in the Middle East and confrontations with Russia—all of which he'd have to face with a declining defense budget, the Journal notes. He's stood out in helping to create state-of-the-art war equipment, such as mine-resistant vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan, the New York Times notes. "It's no exaggeration to say there are countless Americans who are alive today, in part because of Ash's efforts," Obama said during his announcement. From his autobiography, Carter appears capable of withstanding the often-brutal political environment. "Public service at senior levels in Washington is a little bit like being a Christian in the Coliseum," he wrote in 2007, as per the Journal. "You never know when they are going to release the lions and have you torn apart for the amusement of onlookers."