Hagel steps down as Defense secretary

Jack Torry in our Washington Bureau is covering the announcement that Chuck Hagel is stepping down as secretary of Defense. Here’s Jack’s report which we will update throughout the day.

By Jack Torry

Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama (R) speaks as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel looks on during a press conference announcing Hagel's resignation in the State Dining Room of the White House November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Sources say Hagel plans to remain in office until his successor is confirmed by the Senate.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama (R) speaks as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel looks on during a press conference announcing Hagel’s resignation in the State Dining Room of the White House November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Sources say Hagel plans to remain in office until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel resigned today after less than two years of directing the Pentagon, a move which had been anticipated during the past few weeks.

With Vice President Joe Biden and Hagel at his side at the White House, Obama announced Hagel would leave his post as soon as the Senate confirms his successor. It is unlikely the next nominee would be confirmed until January when the Republicans assume control of the Senate.

Among those reportedly under consideration are Michele Flournoy, who served as undersecretary of defense for policy under former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Since leaving the government, Flournoy has emerged as a major critic of the automatic spending reductions – known as a sequester – which will force the Pentagon to cut $500 billion out of its projected budget during the next decade.

“You can’t expect to defend the nation under sequestration,” Flournoy said during a conference of defense experts last month in Washington.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, said he wanted “to thank” Hagel for his service as a combat soldier in Vietnam, a Republican senator from Nebraska, and secretary of defense.

But Boehner warned that the change in leadership at the Pentagon “must be part of a larger re-thinking of our strategy to confront the threats we face abroad, especially the threat posed” by the Islamic State, a Sunni militant group which holds large swaths of Syria and Iraq. 

“We cannot defeat this enemy without a broad, coordinated, well-thought-out effort that has the strong support of the American people,” Boehner said. “Thus far, this administration has fallen well short.”


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