Ashton Carter Next Defense Chief, Helped Israel Procure F-35 Jets
U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who has strong pro-Israel credentials, as the next defense secretary at a ceremony in the White House on Friday.
Obama said that as defense secretary Carter, 60, will need “to make smart choices, precisely because there are so many challenges out there, ” in reference to America’s new military campaign in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State, as well as the myriad of new threats, including Russian intervention in the Ukraine and China’s assertiveness in east Asia.
Described as a “policy wonk, ” Carter has diverse degrees in medieval history and theoretical physics, and has spent most of his career in and out of academia before joining the Pentagon where he eventually rose to become deputy secretary of defense until he left the position in 2013, the New York Times reported.
Carter replaces outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who resigned last month. During Hagel’s confirmation in 2013, he received tough questions from Republicans over his stance on Iran’s nuclear program as well as his views on Israel due to past controversial statements on his part.
However, Carter is widely viewed to be more hawkish than Hagel on issues like Iran’s nuclear program. He has penned reports on advocating the use and threat of force to prevent Iranian nukes, and has a strong record of working closely with Israel. He made his first official visit to Israel in 2013 as deputy defense secretary, where he worked closely with his Israeli defense counterparts and was instrumental in helping Israel procure the advanced next generation F-35 fighter jet.