Ash Carter, nominated to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, has picked a small team of experienced hands with whom he has worked closely in the past to form a transition team to help him prepare for a confirmation process expected to be contentious but ultimately successful.
At his confirmation hearing scheduled for early February, Carter expects to field pointed questions on the Obama administration’s war policies from Republican Sen. John McCain, the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee who will consider Carter’s nomination, and others.
But Carter, who is thought to havegravitas inside national security circles for having served both as head of the Pentagon’s massive weapons buying office and as the building’s No. 2 civilian, would be Obama’s fourth defense chief in six years. That may give him the leeway to speak more candidly about the wars and other policy areas, defense officials and experts said.
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