Ashton Carter confirmed as new US defence secretary

Barack Obama has chosen a seasoned Pentagon official to be his fourth defence secretary

US President Barack Obama has chosen Ashton Carter, a seasoned Pentagon official, to be his fourth defence secretary, succeeding departing secretary Chuck Hagel, according to a US official.

Carter (60) spent more than two years as the defense department's No. 2 civilian leader, under former Secretary Leon Panetta and then Hagel. He also served under Obama's first Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, as the military's top weapons buyer. Carter's selection was reported earlier today by CNN. White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined to comment.

With Carter, Obama would get a Pentagon chief with expertise in budgeting and procurement at a time when spending constraints are balanced against the need to deal with the Islamic State terrorist group, a revanchist Russia and an assertive China.

The choice also illustrates how one of Washington‘s most powerful jobs - overseeing the world‘s strongest military with a budget of more than $600 billion - has faded in the Obama era as White House officials exert more control over policy making.

Carter‘s years of service in Washington make him a well- known figure on Capitol Hill,

While he has a lengthy resume on defense matters, he never served in the military. Carter has a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He served as chairman of the International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard University‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government.