The Senate on Thursday confirmed Ashton Carter to be the next Secretary of Defense with a 93-5 vote. Republican Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) voted against Carter, reported The Hill. He is expected to be confirmed as the 25th Defense Secretary—the fourth to serve under President Obama—in the next few days, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved the nomination earlier this week. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “will continue to carry out the full responsibilities of his office and he will do so right up until the time his successor is confirmed and installed,” added Kirby on Thursday. Carter previously served as the No. 2 and No. 3-ranking official at the Pentagon. “Ash Carter served as a key leader of our national security team in the first years of my presidency, and with his overwhelming bipartisan confirmation by the Senate today, I’m proud to welcome him back as our next Secretary of Defense,” said President Obama in a Feb. 12 statement. “With his decades of experience, Ash will help keep our military strong as we continue the fight against terrorist networks, modernize our alliances, and invest in new capabilities to keep our armed forces prepared for long-term threats.” (DOD release)
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.