Gates, Powell endorse Hagel

Two of the biggest names in Republican national security circles have quickly thrown their support behind Chuck Hagel's nomination to be the next secretary of defense. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates promptly endorsed Hagel to run the Pentagon after President Obama made the announcement on Monday. Gates' former spokesman Geoff Morrell sent the following statmenet to reporters:

"I congratulate Senator Hagel on his nomination to be secretary of defense. I am grateful for his willingness to take on this responsibility at a time of great challenges for the Defense Department. While there are issues on which I have disagreed with him, such as the 2007 surge in Iraq, he is a man of complete integrity and deep patriotism. He is also the president's choice. The country and our men and women in uniform would be well-served by his swift confirmation." - Robert M. Gates

Also, retired Gen. Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state to President Bush, gave his full-throated support for Hagel:

"I wholeheartedly endorse President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Chuck Hagel has been a friend and colleague of mine for over twenty years. He is a fellow infantryman who demonstrated his courage in Vietnam. He served his country as a dedicated official in the Department of Veteran Affairs and as a respected legislator. He was also a successful businessman.

Chuck displays his courage in many ways. You can always count on him to analyze a difficult situation and take a position that reflects his best judgment. I believe that more than ever we need that kind of independent and bold leader who thinks in and out of the box. He is the kind of leader needed by the Department of Defense to deal with the strategic and resource challenges it will be facing over the next several years.

He will be a splendid successor to Secretary Leon Panetta, who has done a superb job in guiding the Pentagon. I urge the Senate to hold prompt hearings and to confirm this distinguished American as soon as possible."

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