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Accepting President Obama’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter on Friday said he took the job because of his “regard for his leadership” and “the seriousness of the challenge.” He pledged “my most candid strategic advice and ... equally candid military advice” to the President and Congress. Carter promised service members—“the greatest fighting force the world has ever known”—that he will look out for their interests and safety, “keep faith with you, and serve our nation with the same unflinching dedication that you demonstrate every day.” He said there are “bright opportunities that exist for America if we can come together to grab hold of them.” Carter thanked his career mentors, among whom he mentioned Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a national security advisor to several Presidents and William Perry, Defense Secretary under President Clinton. He also thanked the retiring chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Carter will now begin a series of courtesy calls to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in preparation for confirmation hearings, which are likely to take place in January. With the new Republican majority in the Senate, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will preside over those hearings. At outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing, McCain led a withering attack on his former Senate colleague, and Hagel was ultimately confirmed with a slim 58-41 majority vote.