Former Nebraska United States Senator Chuck Hagel has resigned as Secretary of Defense.
President Barack Obama, in a White House announcement, thanked Hagel for his service.
“When I nominated you for this position, you said that you would always give me your honest advice and informed counsel. You have. When it has matter most, behind closed doors in the Oval Office, you’ve always given it to me straight. And for that I will always be grateful,” Obama stated.
Hagel made his announcement after the president spoke.
“I have today submitted my resignation as Secretary of Defense,” Hagel stated. “It has been the greatest privilege of my life, the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important to serve, to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families.”
Reports out of Washington indicate Hagel resigned under pressure after a series of meetings with President Obama and White House officials. Hagel, a Republican serving in a Democratic administration, had been Secretary of Defense for less than two years.
Hagel, flanked by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, gave no indication of disagreement with the administration.
Hagel listed a number of accomplishments during his nearly two years as secretary.
“We have prepared ourselves, as the president has noted, our allies and Afghan national security forces for successful transition in Afghanistan,” according to Hagel. “We’ve bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world. And we’ve launched important reforms that the president noted, reforms that will prepare this institution for challenges facing us for decades to come.”
Hagel said he was proud of his accomplishments as Secretary of Defense.
“I believe we have set not only this department, the Department of Defense, but the nation on a stronger course toward security, stability, and prosperity,” Hagel stated. “If I didn’t believe that I would not have done this job.”
Hagel said he would stay on as Secretary of Defense until President Obama appointed and the United States Senate confirmed his successor.
Sen. Deb Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, released the following statement regarding Hagel’s resignation.
“Secretary Hagel has dedicated much of his life to public service in a number a capacities: in uniform in Vietnam, as senator from my home state of Nebraska, and as the Secretary of Defense. I thank him for his service.
“Our world is only growing increasingly dangerous. As Russia maneuvers to gain regional strength, Iran flouts international nuclear obligations, and extremist groups like ISIL continue their violent campaign of terror, it’s clear that we need decisive, strong leadership at the Pentagon. As I’ve said so many times before, we must adopt a strong strategy to combat threats to our national security and the secretary of defense is responsible for leading in this important endeavor. I look forward to a complete and thorough vetting of the President’s nominee for the next Secretary of Defense.”
Sen. Mike Johanns issued the following statement:
“I want to thank Chuck Hagel for his service over the last two years as Secretary of Defense. From his distinguished military service, to his time representing the people of Nebraska in the United States Senate, and now as Defense Secretary, Chuck’s exemplary career showcases his commitment to serving our country. As a long-time friend and fellow Nebraskan, I wish him the best.”
AUDIO: President Barack Obama announces resignation of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. [10 min.]