Obama Mulls Defense Secretary Pick

President Obama Announces Resignation of Chuck Hagel
U.S. President Barack Obama announces the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the White House in Washington, November 24, 2014. Larry Downing/Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is considering a variety of high-profile figures as his candidate to be the next U.S. defense secretary and replace the resigning Chuck Hagel, administration sources said on Monday.

He is working from a list that includes former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who is widely seen as the front-runner after former defense official Michele Flournoy unexpectedly dropped out of contention last week.

Carter served as deputy defense secretary from October 2011 to December 2013 and was the Pentagon's chief arms buyer before that. He has a reputation for being sharp and effective grappling with the Pentagon's sprawling bureaucracy but is not well known outside defense circles.

Among others believed to be under active consideration are current Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, a former general counsel at the Pentagon; 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.

An announcement is expected in coming days, possibly this week or next week, a source said.

Hagel resigned under pressure last week after less than two years at the helm of the Defense Department. He had privately expressed frustration to colleagues at the administration's strategy toward Iraq and Syria and at his lack of influence over the decision-making process, a source familiar with the situation said.