Carter's decision to leave the department was not prompted by pressure from White House or Pentagon officials, according to Pentagon press secretary George Little.
Carter will remain in his position at the Pentagon for the next two months, "helping the Department of Defense manage through a very disruptive and difficult time, and ensuring a smooth transition," according to Hagel.
Senate Armed Services Committee member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) praised Carter's tenure at the Pentagon, "providing exceptional leadership at a time when it mattered."
At the time of his resignation, Carter was overseeing a Pentagon-wide review of the department's security measures at military installations, in the wake of September's mass shooting at the Navy's Washington, D.C., headquarters.
Carter also spearheaded efforts to rein in costs and excessive spending in the department's expansive weapons development programs and drafted the department's new strategy to deal with the massive, across-the-board budget cuts under the White House's sequestration plan.
GOP, Pentagon clash over death benefits: Republicans made it personal with Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale on Thursday at a hearing about the “Pay Our Military Act,” as the author of the bill accused Hale of “subordinating your professionalism to that of a political agenda.”
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) was angry with Hale over the Pentagon’s interpretation of his military pay bill, which Hale said did not give the Pentagon legal authority to pay out death benefits to survivors of service members who died or to stop furloughs for all Pentagon civilians.
“You went out of your way at every possible turn to make this as ugly as possible, to inflict as much pain as possible on this department,” Coffman said.
Hale disagreed, saying that he resented Coffman’s comments and “acted on the advice of attorneys, and our best reading of a loosely-worded law.”
The weeklong halting of a $100,00 death gratuity sparked the contentious exchange at Thursday’s hearing, as the death benefit has been one of the most visible signs of the damage inflicted by the government shutdown.
At the end of the hearing, the two sides were still very divided about who was to blame for the death gratuity being stopped.
Afghan payments also stopped: The government shutdown has also interrupted the U.S. military’s ability to pay compensation to civilians in Afghanistan.
Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said Thursday that payments under the Commander Emergency Response Program (CERP) can no longer go out due to the shutdown.
“These payments are made to Afghans as compensation for deaths or damage, or for other events, and they are key to continuing a responsible drawdown in Afghanistan,” Hale said.
“[U.S. Afghanistan Commander] Gen. [Joseph] Dunford has expressed strong concern, but we have not yet identified a legal way to make these payments during a lapse of appropriations. We're trying our best,” he added.
Hale listed a number of issues on Thursday still ongoing at the Pentagon due to the shutdown, even though more than 95 percent of the furloughed civilian workforce was able to return this week.
The Afghan compensation payments, Hale said, had to stop because the payments are cash and represent an outlay.
“We have no authority to do that under the law until we get beyond this lapse,” he said. “This is a unique authority that expired after the appropriation bill lapsed.”
US pays price for canceled Egypt aid: The White House will pay out millions of dollars in storage costs and contractor fees tied to several big-ticket weapon sales to Egypt that were indefinitely suspended by the administration on Wednesday.
"There are costs associated with the suspension of some programs," State Department spokeswoman Margie Harf said. The department is the lead agency responsible for coordinating and overseeing foreign sales of U.S. military hardware.
The White House shelved multibillion-dollar sales of F-16 fighter jets, M1 Abrams tanks and Apache attack helicopters to Cairo as part of the administration's "recalibration" of U.S.-Egyptian ties.
The decision "sends a pretty clear message" to the Egyptian interim government that it must end its violent crackdown on opposition forces and end the political turmoil in the country, a White House official said shortly after the suspension of the weapon sales.
That said, U.S. military and diplomatic leaders "will ... continue to meet our obligations" with the U.S. defense firms tied to the suspended military sales to Cairo.
"Where programs conflict with the policy objectives we have outlined, we will work with U.S. vendors to ensure that any issues are resolved consistent with the terms of the individual contract," Harf said.
In Case You Missed It:
— NATO chief hammers Karzai on war claims
— Frelinghuysen in line to replace Young on defense appropriations panel
— Gillibrand blasts Navy nominee on sexual abuse stance
— Obama nominee calls for changes to 9/11-era counterterror rules
— GOP, DOD clash over death benefits
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