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Obama removing DOD’s Hagel

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By Justin Sink – 11/24/14 09:29 AM EST

President Obama will announce the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday in the first high-profile personnel move since Democrats suffered significant losses in this month’s midterm elections.
“In October, Secretary Hagel began speaking with the President about departing the administration given the natural post-midterms transition time,” a senior administration official said.

Obama will make the announcement with Hagel at 11:00 a.m. According to the White House, a successor will be named “in short order,” but Hagel will remain in the post until that person is confirmed by the Senate.

A senior administration official praised Hagel, the only Republican in Obama’s Cabinet, as “a steady hand, guiding our military through this transition, and helping us respond to challenges from [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] to Ebola.”
But The New York Times, which first reported Hagel’s departure, suggested the Defense secretary was being forced out over concerns over his ability to lead the campaign against ISIS.
An administration official told the Times that “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus” than he was able to provide. Hagel was originally expected to focus primarily on winding down the Afghanistan War and cuts to the Pentagon’s budget under sequestration.
There have also been reports of high-profile clashes between Hagel and top White House officials, especially on ISIS policy.
Last month, CNN reported that Hagel wrote a memo to national security adviser Susan Rice sharply critical of the White House’s strategy on Syria.
The unnamed source also indicated that Hagel was concerned that the U.S. could lose gains it made in the war against ISIS if it did not alter its strategy toward Syrian President Bashar Assad.
And a story last month in the Times suggested that Secretary of State John Kerry and Hagel were struggling to win favor with the White House. The story suggested that Hagel was often silent in national security meetings, and that the president preferred to solicit advice from Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at the time the president was “proud of his national security team.”
“The president and his senior team at the White House are proud of the work that the president’s Cabinet are performing to represent our interests around the globe,” Earnest sad.
And Hagel himself also brushed aside suggestion of tensions.
“Because we are a significant element of this issue, we owe the president and we owe the National Security Council our best thinking on this,” Hagel said. “And it has to be honest and it has to be direct.”
Top candidates to replace Hagel could include former Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy, former Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.).
Hagel was asked about his job security during an interview with Charlie Rose last week.
“First of all, I serve at the pleasure of the president,” Hagel said. “I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity I’ve had the last two years to work every day for the country and for the men and women who serve this country. I don’t get up in the morning and worry about my job.”
But the Defense secretary added that it was “not unusual, by the way, to change teams at different times.
“I didn’t say I expect him to change,” he continued. “What I’m saying is it wouldn’t be unusual to do that first of all historically. But second, I’ve got to stay focused on my job … and I do. And I am very fortunate that I have some of the best people in the world to work with and whatever the president decides, he’s the president, he makes those decisions.”
Hagel was also evasive when he was asked if he retained Obama’s confidence.
“Well, I don’t think I would be here if I didn’t,” he said. “But you’d have to ask him that. I mean I see him all the time.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was friends with Hagel from their time in the Senate, told Arizona radio station KFYI that during a meeting in his office last week last week, the Defense secretary said he was “very frustrated.”

“Believe me, he was up to the job,” McCain said

Source: The Hill

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