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Ashton Carter offers remarks after President Barack Obama nominated him to serve as the next Defense Secretary during an event at the White House, Dec. 5, 2014. Video screen shot.

Ashton Carter, formerly the No. 2 and No. 3-ranking official at the Pentagon, was named Friday by President Obama to succeed Chuck Hagel to become the 25th Secretary of Defense. At a White House ceremony, Obama praised Carter’s 30 years of work as an “advisor, scholar, and public servant” dating back to the Clinton Administration, where he was an assistant defense secretary for policy. Obama praised Carter’s success in reducing weapons of mass destruction by organizing the transfer of nuclear materials out of former Soviet states, and for working to supply new body armor and mine-resistant vehicles to troops, thereby “saving countless lives.” Carter’s background as a physicist allows him to understand “how many of our defense systems actually work,” and have also guided him in terminating those that were obsolete or irrelevant, Obama said. His long experience, including five years as a senior defense official during Obama’s own administration, means he will “hit the ground running ... on day one.” Carter faces “no shortage of challenges” with the drawdown in Afghanistan, combating ISIS, building international partnerships, preserving old alliances like NATO, fighting Ebola, and shaping a military that will “necessarily be leaner,” Obama observed, adding it will be Carter’s job to “squeeze everything we can from the resources available.” However, Obama said Carter is charged to ensure the  American military is “second to none.” Carter has served under both Republican and Democratic leaders and has been confirmed by the Senate three times, Obama said, and he asked Congress to act on the nomination “with speed and dispatch.”