US Senate confirms Ashton Carter
WASHINGTON – With little fanfare, the Senate confirmed former Harvard professor Ashton B. Carter today as right-hand man to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.
The unanimous vote, which was taken at the end of a day dominated by an impasse over funding the federal government, approved Carter’s promotion to deputy secretary from his position as undersecretary for acquisitions, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
After the vote, Panetta praised Carter, saying he has “a steady hand, a keen intellect, and an effective management style that will help this department keep faith with our troops and protect our nation.”
“He is already an essential part of my team as an outstanding undersecretary of defense, and I look forward to his continued guidance and leadership as he assumes his new responsibilities,” Panetta said.
In his new role, Carter will be central to identifying and carrying out billions of dollars in defense cuts mandated by Congress in a budget deal worked out this summer to reduce the projected federal deficit.
At his confirmation hearing, he warned of the dangers of the across-the-board automatic cuts that will kick in should a congressional committee not come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in cuts necessitated under the deal.
Marion C. Blakey, chief executive of the defense lobbying group Aerospace Industries Association, welcomed the confirmation.
“At a time when defense is going through a significant transition, his strong leadership is welcomed by the industry. We look forward to working with him and Secretary Panetta to ensure that we preserve the technological advantage that our troops rely on as tough choices are made,” she said in a statement.Theo Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @temery.