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US Senate confirms Ashton Carter as Def Secretary

WASHINGTON (PTI): Ashton Carter, a close confidant of President Barack Obama and a strong India-backer, has been confirmed by the Senate as the next US Defence Secretary.

He was confirmed to the top Pentagon post with an overwhelming 93 to five votes.

Carter, 60, will be the 25th US Secretary of Defence, replacing Chuck Hagel who quit from the post in November last amid reports of differences with President Barack Obama.

Obama lauded Carter's election to the top post on Thursday even as he hoped that the new secretary will work with the Congress and find a "more responsible" approach to defence spendings.

"With his decades of experience, Ash will help keep our military strong as we continue the fight against terrorist networks, modernise our alliances, and invest in new capabilities to keep our armed forces prepared for long-term threats," Obama said in a statement.

"As Secretary of Defence, Ash will play a central role in our work with Congress to find a more responsible approach to defence spending that makes the department more efficient, preserves military readiness, and keeps faith with our men and women in uniform and their families," he said.

"We have the strongest military in the 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.

Carter is known for the path breaking India-US Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) which resulted in the two countries agreeing on co-production and co-development of four high-tech defence items.

One of the first items on his agenda after being sworn-in as the defence Secretary would be to sign the renewed India-US Defence Framework Agreement for another 10 years, the details of which were agreed to by the two countries during Obama's visit to India last month.

The former deputy Defence Secretary's installation as the new Pentagon chief was lauded by Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus among other senators.

"From day one, Secretary Carter will be ready to lead the Department of defence in making the investments we need to prepare and respond to the complex challenges facing our national security," Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, said.

"Dr Carter is a worthy choice for Secretary of defence. He has the experience, knowledge, and skill to succeed. The Armed Services Committee voted unanimously to approve his nomination last week, and I will vote to confirm him today," Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.


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