So, it looks like Carter will be nominated to be SECDEF. The Obamanites would have preferred Flournoy as part of their effort to achieve a grand-slam in the field of "Hope and Change" but the lady decided she was "not for burning." Smart.
Carter is filled with wonderfulness as an academic prodigy, physicist, budgeteer, procurer (in a nice way), etc., but he "don't know s--t from Shinola" about actual war or foreign policy. That last was a quote from one of my old NCO friends.
The industrial part of the fabled military-industrial complex is said to be rejoicing about the prospect of this man handing out contracts. Yes, I am sure it is.
IMO, the prospect of Carter as SECDEF means that McCain is right when he says that Carter simply will not be a player in strategic decision making. That, in turn means that Dempsey's role as chief strategist at the Pentagon will grow to be even larger.
CJCS is not in the chain of command under Goldwater-Nichols but in this situation that seems irrelevant. I think it unlikely that General Austen (CENTCOM) would choose to get crosswise with Dempsey on anything important.
IMO the struggle between the JCS and the Girls Club at the WH will continue with Dempsey being the chief protagonist on the DoD side of the conflict.
There are all kinds of serious matters to be dealt with in the next two years. Presumably the money fight will be ably led by SECDEF. This is the kind of thing that he is well qualified to do, but there are real wars to fight: