Chuck Hagel.(AFP Photo / Jim Watson)
United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down from his post atop the Pentagon, the Obama-appointee said Monday from the White House.
Flanked by US President Barack Obama and the vice president during a Monday morning announcement, Hagel, 68, acknowledged that he submitted his resignation, confirming reports that started to circulate earlier that day in the press.
Hagel, whose resignation was accepted by the president, called leading the Department of Defense “the greatest privilege of my life.” He took office as defense secretary in February 2013 and previously spent more than a decade in the US Senate. Due to his previous opposition to the 2007 surge policy in Iraq and statements critical of the Israeli lobby in the US, his confirmation was met with significant controversy. Following Monday’s announcement, Hagel will have served just longer than the 20 months his predecessor Leon Panetta held the position.
“For nearly two years, Chuck has been an exemplary defense secretary, providing a steady hand as we modernize our strategy and budget to meet long-term threats while still responding to immediate challenges like ISIL and Ebola,” Pres. Obama said Monday. “Thanks to Chuck, our military is on a firmer footing engaged in these missions and looking ahead to the future.”
Hours before the Monday presser, the New York Times reported that the outgoing Defense chief is stepping down under pressure following the massive mid-term losses suffered by the Democrats this month and the national security team’s inability to keep ahead of a series of global crises, citing senior White House officials. CNN also reported that Hagel has clashed with the White House recently over alleged “micromanagement” issues within the administration.
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