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Senate Confirms Ashton Carter As Defense Secretary

Ashton Carter answers a reporter's question during a March 2013 news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea.
Lee Jin-man
Ashton Carter answers a reporter's question during a March 2013 news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea.

Ashton Carter will be the country's 25th secretary of defense, after the Senate confirmed his nomination Thursday with an overwhelming vote of 93 to 5.

As we've reported, Carter, 60, had served as the No. 2 defense official under Leon Panetta and he was tapped by President Obama after his first two picks removed themselves from consideration.

Defense News reports:

"[Senate Armed Services Committee] Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Thursday went to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support the nomination.

"'I have known Dr. Carter for many years during his lengthy service in Washington,' McCain said. 'He is one of America's most experienced defense professionals, respected by Republicans and Democrats alike.

"'I have had the opportunity to work together with Dr. Carter on several issues of shared concern, especially trying to reform the defense acquisition system, improving financial management of the department, and rolling back sequestration,' McCain said. 'America needs a strong secretary of defense now more than ever.'"

Carter will take over for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who announced his resignation in November.

Update at 5:56 p.m. ET. 'Proud To Welcome Him':

In a statement issued by the White House, President Obama said he was "proud to welcome" Carter as the next secretary of defense.

"As secretary of defense, Ash will play a central role in our work with Congress to find a more responsible approach to defense spending that makes the department more efficient, preserves military readiness, and keeps faith with our men and women in uniform and their families," Obama said. "We have the strongest military in history of the world, and with Secretary Carter at the Pentagon and our troops serving bravely around the world, we're going to keep it that way."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.