WASHINGTON: Hagel Takes Over at Pentagon
Chuck in Charge
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) was sworn in today as the 24th Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.
In an address to uniformed and civilian workers at the Pentagon, Hagel called for teamwork with allies — “working with old allies and reaching out to new allies.” He added: “We must lead with our allies. No nation, as great as America is, can do anything alone.”
Mentioning the looming budget cuts posed by the sequestration deficit reduction measures scheduled to take effect March 1, Hagel said: “That’s a reality. We need to figure this out …we need to deal with this reality.”
After he was sworn in, Hagel said he spent some time at the Pentagon’s memorial to the 9/11 attack. He noted that Thursday (Feb. 28) will be the 22nd anniversary of the end of Operation Desert Storm, the first war in Iraq. In the time between those two events he said, one “starts to see a pattern of different kinds of threats,” Hagel said.
He noted that the military, and the country as a whole, faces a continuing number of challenges. “If nothing else, what we’re all dealing with is the uncertainty of the planning, the uncertainty of the commitments, the uncertainty of what’s ahead,” he said. Hagel promised to a defense secretary who “will be straight with you.” Then with a grin, he ended the brief session saying: “Now I’ve got to go to work.”