Obama nominates Ashton Carter for defense secretary

President Obama nominated Ashton Carter for U.S. defense secretary Friday, praising Carter for his "record of service that has spanned more than 30 years." Carter will replace outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel, who resigned under pressure last week.

Carter joined the Obama administration in 2009 as a top arms buyer, eventually rising to be the Pentagon’s second-in-command from 2011 to 2013. There he managed the Pentagon’s budget, its 2.4 million employees and rose within the ranks of the administration. The 59-year-old resigned in late 2013 after being passed up for the defense secretary job. Most recently, Carter has worked as a senior executive at the Markle Foundation, where he has focused on technology and the economy. Carter is also a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University. 

A Rhodes Scholar and a theoretical physicist with a bachelor's degree in medieval history, Carter's more of a wonk than a politico. Still, he has already earned support from Republicans, suggesting he'll see an easy confirmation in the Senate.

In the past, Carter has warned that the military may be losing its competitive edge and  is expected to advocate for new technologies and upgrades.

The White House "lost confidence" in Hagel, according to NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski, who reported that Hagel had difficulty articulating his priorities at the Pentagon to senior officials in the administration. Miklaszewski also reported that some officials said they didn't believe Hagel was up to the task of defense secretary.

Anna Brand contributed to this story.