(Evy Mages for The Washington Post)

In selecting Ashton B. Carter to be deputy secretary of defense, the White House signaled the importance it places on finding savings and cuts in the Defense Department budget.

Carter, if confirmed, would take over from William J. Lynn III, who announced his resignation last month. Carter is expected to be confirmed by the Senate with little opposition.

The deputy defense secretary has traditionally worked behind the scenes, overseeing the Pentagon’s vast bureaucracy. Carter’s tenure will likely be consumed by a need to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the military’s budget over the next decade. The Pentagon faces cuts that are estimated to be as high as $800 billion to $1 trillion.

Carter has long been seen as the frontrunner for the job, along with Michele A. Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy. But the spiraling deficit and the need for big cuts to the Pentagon budget appear to have made Carter, who has a deep knowledge of the military’s multi-billion weapons programs, a more logical choice.

Carter, who received a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, has taught at Harvard and served in the Pentagon during the Clinton administration, where he focused on North Korea, nuclear issues and terrorism.