Chuck Hagel Confirmed for Secretary of Defense (Updated)

Update II:

American Forces Press Service:

President Barack Obama praised his choice to lead the Pentagon as “the defense secretary our nation needs and the leader our troops deserve.”

“From the moment he volunteered for military service in Vietnam, Chuck has devoted his life to keeping America secure and our armed forces strong,” Obama said in a statement issued shortly after Hagel’s confirmation. “An American patriot who fought and bled for our country, he understands our sacred obligations to our service members, military families and veterans.”

The president noted challenges ahead.

“I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world,” he said. “Most of all, I am grateful to Chuck for reminding us that when it comes to our national defense, we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans, and our greatest responsibility is the security of the American people.”

Chuck Hagel will be sworn in tomorrow.

UPDATE I:

Chuck Hagel’s confirmation by the Senate is bittersweet.

It will be difficult to forget the many political, unfounded, sleazy attacks that Republicans have launched against him during the past couple of months. They have all been ugly. However, the attacks that I have personally found to be especially below the belt and offensive are the ones calling Hagel’s Vietnam War service non-relevant and, in particular, the comments by those who focus on the enlisted nature of Hagel’s military service in order to even more reprehensibly diminish such service and experience.

I wrote about those attacks here and I referred to Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens’ piece “Chuck Hagel’s Courage” and Eliot A. Cohen’s “Hagel’s war service admirable, but not relevant here,” and even to “Chuck Hagel’s War” by New York Times’ Bill Keller.

Perhaps I have found such comments objectionable, because I, for one, have come through the ranks and have found such experience to be valuable in my later military and civilian careers.

Perhaps because such comments are not deserving of our present and former enlisted men and women, of the tens of thousands of enlisted personnel…who have gone on to receive their commissions in our armed forces, of the thousands who have gone on to become successful generals, entrepreneurs, CEOs, diplomats, congressmen and senators, even after 40 years. And they are hardly deserving of a man who served honorably and heroically in combat in Vietnam, a man who was awarded two Purple Hearts and of a man whose military experience as “just” a sergeant — when combined with his other vast business, financial, executive, political and senatorial and Department of Veterans Affairs experience — will make him a great secretary of defense.

Perhaps, Iraq War veteran and chairman of the superb “Vote Vets,” Jon Soltz, says it best in an e-mail:

Few understand the sacrifices made by our troops and military families better than Secretary Hagel.

He’ll be the first enlisted man to serve in the position, was awarded two Purple Hearts (his brother earned three), and made a career of advocating for veterans in the U.S. Senate.

That’s why VoteVets drove tens of thousands of petitions, letters and calls into the Senate during the confirmation process.

You should be proud of our collective effort in this fight — the voice of veterans and military families made a real difference in overcoming the first ever filibuster of a Secretary of Defense nominee.

And while a number of Republicans put patriotism over party today, it was sad to see once proud moderates like Lindsey Graham cower in fear of a potential primary campaign.

But overcoming the right-wing smears ensures Chuck Hagel emerges from this process stronger than he entered — fully vetted, battle-tested and ready to lead on day one.

I hope you’ll share your thoughts and priorities for Secretary Hagel at the link below — it’s an opportunity to have your voice heard by the incoming leadership at the Department of Defense

If you want to share such thoughts, please click here

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Original Post:

After foot dragging at best and as the New York Times said this morning, after “a vicious and long campaign by Republicans against him,” at worse, a campaign where Chuck Hagel has “been pilloried by former Republican colleagues in the Senate who proclaim devotion to the nation’s defense but thought nothing of politically battering,” Chuck Hagel has finally been confirmed to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Neither John McCain, nor Lindsey Graham, nor Ted Cruz of my home state, nor Marco Rubio, nor any of the 11 other irate Senators who wrote a letter to the president urging him to pick another nominee, could stop a good man from becoming the next Secretary of Defense.

The Washington Post:

Chuck Hagel won confirmation Tuesday to become defense secretary over objections to his views on Middle East security and the administration’s handling of an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.

On a 58 to 41 vote, the Senate confirmed the former GOP senator as four Republicans joined 54 Democrats in approving Hagel, ending a nearly two-month battle that included an unprecedented filibuster against the nominee.

More later.

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist