US President Obama expected to nominate Ashton Carter to lead Pentagon - CNN

Ashton Carter adjusts his glasses during a meeting with Japanese Senior Vice Defence Minister Shu Watanabe in Tokyo in this July 20, 2012 file photo. U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate the former Pentagon official as US defence secre
Ashton Carter adjusts his glasses during a meeting with Japanese Senior Vice Defence Minister Shu Watanabe in Tokyo in this July 20, 2012 file photo. U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate the former Pentagon official as US defence secretary, according to media reports. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to nominate former Pentagon official Ashton Carter as U.S. defence secretary, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Carter, a former deputy secretary at the Department of Defence, had been considered a leading candidate for the job to replace Chuck Hagel, who is resigning.

A Pentagon spokesman said he was unaware of a decision and referred reporters to the White House, which had no immediate comment on the report. A spokeswoman for Carter also had no immediate comment.

Other names have been circulated as a possible replacement for Hagel, including former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Kurt Campbell, a former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs who now heads the Asia Group, a strategy and capitol advisory group.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, a former general counsel at the Pentagon who had been believed to be under active consideration, took himself out of consideration, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Carter was the No. 2 official at the Pentagon from October 2011 to December 2013. Previously, he was the Pentagon's chief arms buyer.

He also served as assistant secretary of defence for international security policy under President Bill Clinton.

Carter has bachelor's degrees in physics and medieval history from Yale, a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar, according to the Pentagon website.

Hagel resigned under pressure last week after less than two years at the helm of the Defence Department.