After less than two years on the job, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is planning his departure. CCTV America’s Jessica Stone reported this story from Washington, D.C.
Hagel resigns as US defense secretary, will stay until sucessor is namedAfter less than two years on the job, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is planning his departure. CCTV America's Jessica Stone reported this story from Washington, D.C.
Hagel is a Vietnam War veteran who was the first enlisted combat soldier to lead the department and made a name for himself opposing the 2007 troop surge in Iraq.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Hagel came to him a month ago to discuss moving on. Those who know Hagel said he had become frustrated with the White House’s national security decisions. The U.S. media interpreted his departure as an ouster by the White House.
“I can tell you he was in my office last week. He was very frustrated. We have no strategy to combat ISIS. We have no way of helping the Ukrainians. We refuse to give them weapons to defend themselves. We’ve watched turmoil in the far east with the Chinese-asserting themselves, we see a lack of U.S. influence unlike, unknown in history,” U.S. Sen. McCain John R-Ariz. said.
“Already, the White House people are leaking well, he wasn’t up to the job. Believe me he was up to the job. It was a job that he was given where he really was never really brought into that real tight circle inside the White House that makes all the decisions.”
The announcement comes after increased friction between the Pentagon and the White House over what to do about ISIL. U.S. Military commanders publicly contradicted White House officials over deploying U.S. combat troops in Iraq and fighting ISIL in Syria.
In October, reports surfaced of a memo from Hagel to National Security Advisor Susan Rice allegedly criticizing the White House strategy in Syria. Hagel reportedly warned that President Obama’s Syria policy was in jeopardy because he had been unclear about his intentions toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. White House officials claim the memo had no bearing on Hagel’s resignation.
“It’s true that he wrote a memo. It’s not true how you characterized it. The memo largely asked a series of, I think, very relevant questions about policies both related to Iraq and Syria,” said Rice, when CCTV America asked about memo.
Hagel has agreed to stay on as defense chief until the White House finds and gets confirmation for a replacement. With a new Republican congress in power next year, it could be well into winter, before that happens.
In remarks at the White House Monday, Obama called Hagel “an exemplary defense secretary” and steady hand for strategy and budget. Obama said he’ll always be grateful that Hagel has always “given it to me straight.”
Hagel is the first senior Obama adviser to leave the administration following the sweeping losses for Obama’s party in the Nov. 4 elections. It also comes as the president’s national security team has been battered by multiple foreign policy crises, including the rise of the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
While Obama has sought to consolidate foreign policy decision-making within the White House, advisers have privately criticized Hagel for not being more proactive and engaged in Cabinet meetings and other national security discussions. Officials have also had concerns about Hagel’s ability to communicate the administration’s policy positions.
Story complied with information from CCTV America and The Associated Press.
Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings discusses Hagel resignation
CCTV America interviewed Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow with the director of research for the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution about Hagel’s resignation.