President Barack Obama could name his next defense secretary in December, far sooner than expected and perhaps in a high-powered package announcement with his choice for secretary of state, several senior administration officials tell The Associated Press. …

The top names under consideration for defense secretary are former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, former top Pentagon official Michele Flournoy, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. Among those, Kerry is seen as desiring the secretary of state’s job more.

While Obama has made no final decisions on Cabinet vacancies, announcements could come as soon as next week.