Former Nebraska United States Senator Chuck Hagel pledged today to serve the rank and file of the military if confirmed as Secretary of Defense.
Hagel, in his opening statement during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee stated he fully recognizes the immense responsibilities of the Defense Secretary.
“I assured the president that if I am confirmed by the United States Senate, I will always do my best. I will always do my best for our nation and for the men and women and their families who are called on to make the enormous sacrifices of military service,” Hagel stated. “Their safety, success and welfare will always be at the forefront of the decisions I make.”
Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense in the Obama Administration was at the forefront in the nation’s Capital as the long-anticipated confirmation process began Thursday morning.
Hagel told committee members the nation stands at a crossroads.
“It’s clear that we are living at a defining time. Our nation is emerging from over a decade of war. We have brought our men and women in uniform home from Iraq and have started to bring them home from Afghanistan,” Hagel said. “That does not mean that the threats we face and will continue to face are any less dangerous or complicated. In fact, it is quite the opposite.”
Hagel said human demands and dangers throughout the world will only grow as the world’s population grows. He suggested the United States must be wise will how it deploys its power.
Hagel represented Nebraska in the United States Senate from 1997-to-2009. He has served as co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. During his opening remarks, Hagel noted that he took around 3,000 votes during his two terms in the Senate.
“In my 12 years in the Senate, my one guiding principle on every security decision I made and every vote I cast was always this, simply this: is our policy worthy of our troops and their families and the sacrifices that we ask them to make?” Hagel said. “That same question will guide me if I am confirmed as Secretary of Defense.”
AUDIO: Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s opening remarks during confirmation hearing. [19:30]