Defense Secretary Nominee Ashton Carter Has Back Surgery

Ashton Carter, President Obama’s pick to lead the Pentagon, underwent back surgery on Friday, the White House announced.

Carter “successfully underwent a long-planned surgical procedure on his back,” the White House said late Friday. “Carter decided to go ahead with the previously scheduled procedure so that he could complete it before beginning his confirmation process.”

Carter, the former deputy defense secretary, will have a confirmation hearing in early 2015.

The technocrat is expected to receive bipartisan support, even in a Republican-led Senate, virtually ensuring he’ll replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Obama opted to go with a safe selection after his inner circle repeatedly clashed with Hagel over issues ranging from the administration’s policy in Syria to the transfer of prisoners from the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.