Chuck Hagel is officially retired from the Pentagon.
The Senate this afternoon confirmed Ashton Carter as the new secretary of Defense on a 93-5 vote.
Those “no” votes came from Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and John Boozman (R-Ark.).
Blunt, who is also opposing Loretta Lynch for attorney general, said in a statement about both nominees, “Unfortunately, I believe both of these nominees will simply continue to uphold President Obama’s flawed agenda at these important agencies.”
Kirk simply said, “Mine is a vote of no confidence in the national security decisions of this administration.”
Carter handed in his resignation in October 2013 after Hagel was picked for Defense secretary. He’d been a highly knowledgeable and powerful force inside the Defense Department, serving as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from April 2009 until October 2011, when he assumed the DSD role.
He was expected to be a noncontroversial pick who should receive quick confirmation from the Senate. Hagel promised to stay on at the Pentagon until his successor was confirmed.
At his confirmation hearing, Carter noted that the country faces “real dangers” including “continuing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa and the malignant and savage terrorism emanating from it, an ongoing war in Afghanistan, the reversion to old-style security thinking in parts of Europe, the longstanding tensions from the past and the rapid changes in Asia and the continuing need for the stabilizing role of the United States in that region, which are so important to the future, the continuing imperative to counter the spread or use of weapons of mass destruction and new dangers in new domains like cyber.”
“I have promised President Obama that if I am confirmed, I will furnish him my most candid strategic advice. In formulating that advice, I intend to confer widely among civilian and military leaders, including on this committee, experts and foreign partners. And when the president makes a decision, I will also ensure that the Department of Defense implements it with its long-admired excellence,” Carter promised the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I will also ensure that the president receives candid, professional military advice… and if I’m confirmed as secretary of defense, I will be a stickler for the chain of command.”
Hagel was reportedly forced out due to strategy disagreements with Obama.
“I have worked personally with Dr. Carter on the Iranian nuclear issue and know he has a vast wealth of knowledge that is needed and timely,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) tweeted.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he looks forward to Carter doing more “to reform the contracting process to eliminate waste and fraud.”
Obama said in a statement that Carter “will help keep our military strong as we continue the fight against terrorist networks, modernize our alliances, and invest in new capabilities to keep our armed forces prepared for long-term threats.”
“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,” Obama said.