“You should know I did not make this decision lightly. But after much discussion, the President and I agreed that now was the right time for new leadership here at the Pentagon.” – Chuck Hagel, resigning as Secretary of Defense, November 24, 2014.
Whether you liked or hated the job he did as Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel was a man who deserved respect. His service during the Vietnam War was exemplary and his uncompromising belief that war was not the only or even the best answer showed that his beliefs and values trumped his politics.
Hagel was the first combat veteran to be Secretary of Defense and his service during Vietnam, where he was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and the Army Commendation medal, left him with shrapnel in his chest and an undying loathing of war.
As Hagel said in his biography, “I remember thinking to myself, if I ever get out of this I am going to do everything I can to assure that war is the last resort that we, as a nation, a people, calls upon to settle a dispute. The horror, the pain, the suffering of it. People don’t understand it unless they’ve been through it. I’m no pacifist, but I’m a realist. There’s no glory, only suffering in war.”
As Secretary of Defense, he was uniquely qualified to orchestrate the budget cuts and the scaling back of combat operations that were the hallmarks of Obama’s second term. He was not, however, capable of leading the Department of Defense through the politics of Washington.
Criticized for his handling of the Syrian conflict and being caught unprepared by ISIS, the Secretary was candid in August when he called the Islamic terrorist state an “imminent threat to every interest we have.” That statement, refuted by the White House whose own message was that ISIS was of minor importance and not relevant in the global arena, may have well been the reason for his abrupt departure.
Hagel’s opinions and attitudes on our positions in the Middle East have evolved since taking over from Leon Panetta in February 2013. Specifically, he no longer believes that the war can be won with air power alone. He has publically said that boots on the ground will be required to defeat ISIS.
Although capable of the supervision required to dismantle the U.S. military, he is unsuited to boss the DoD in times of war and the administration agrees. “Over the past two years, Secretary Hagel helped manage an intense period of transition for the United States Armed Forces, including the drawdown in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions, and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready.”
Although he was praised by the same politicians who attacked him during his confirmation hearings, the most vicious cut had to be from President Obama, himself, when he said, “Chuck, you’ve always given it to me straight.”
And then fired him.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.