By: Lance. Cpl. B. A. Stevens Iwakuni Approach Staff
IWAKUNI, Japan - The Senate appointed Charles Hagel to serve President Barack Obama as secretary of defense, Feb. 26, 2013.
The Senate voted 58-41 in favor of Hagel, the closest vote ever for appointing a new secretary of defense. Hagel served as an enlisted service member for the Army during the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart for being wounded twice in combat before becoming a Republican senator of Nebraska.
“I will work closely with the Congress to ensure that we maintain the strongest military in the world and continue to protect this great nation,” Hagel said in a statement shorty after being appointed.
Following the Senate’s appointment, President Obama spoke about the importance of Democrats and Republicans coming together.
“I am grateful to Chuck for reminding us that when it comes to our national defense, we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans, and our greatest responsibility is the security of the American people,” said Obama.
Obama also said he will count on Hagel's judgment as the end of the war in Afghanistan draws near and to keep our military the finest fighting force on the planet. Hagel has no time to settle in he faces a $46 billion budget cut, which started two days after his swearing in and will last the remaining seven months of this fiscal year.
Hagel also faces talks with lawmakers who voted against and ridiculed him days prior. Hagel addressed the Pentagon after being appointed, saying, “America must work with its allies to face the challenges ahead.”
Although some congressmen disagreed with Hagel's confirmation as secretary of defense, he has been sworn into office and will lead the Pentagon through budget cuts and the end of the Afghanistan war.
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