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Hagel: Nominated to head Defense Tell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Chuck Hagel
Photo by Hagel family photos
House on west side of North Platte where Chuck Hagel was born in 1946.
Photo by Bulletin file photo
From left, Barack Obama, Gen. David Petraeus and Chuck Hagel over Iraq, July 2008.

President Barack Obama nominated former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel Monday to head up the U.S. Department of Defense.

Hagel, who was born in North Platte, is a decorated war hero who earned two purple hearts for heroism in Vietnam.

"He knows the sacrifices that we ask our brave service members to make because he has made them himself," Obama said. If confirmed, Hagel would be the first enlisted soldier, and first Vietnam veteran, to serve as our nation's Secretary of Defense.

Hagel served two terms in the Senate from 1996-2008 and was on the Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committee. He helped ensure passage in the Senate of the post-9/11 GI Bill.

Before Hagel ran for Congress, he worked at the Veterans Administration and was the head of the USO.

In summer 2008, Hagel and Obama traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq. The two men share a commitment to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly, a White House spokeswoman said.

Hagel's homination has been rumored for weeks. It is expected to be challenged in the Senate.

He has been outspoken, criticizing the war in Iraq when it was underway, breaking with President George W. Bush and his own party.

"The war in Iraq will go down in history as one of our most misguided military ventures," said the progressive organization, votevets.org, from which 8,000 members already signed a petition supporing Hagel.

"As a Republican, he adds a very crucial dose of credibility when he speaks out against wrongheaded military action," the organization said. "Hagel is a vociferous advocate for cutting Pentagon waste."

He has been criticized by liberals for supporting the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military.

Hagel considered running for president in 2008, making some exploratory appearances in New Hampshire. He is currently a professor at Georgetown University and co-chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board. He also serves on a number of boards of directors, including that of Chevron Corporation, according to the online encyclopedia, wikipedia.

Nebraska's senators are cautious about Hagel's nomination.

Newly elected Sen. Deb Fischer is on the Senate committee that will question Hagel. She said she plans to closely review his record and meet with him to discuss his views on America’s role in an increasingly dangerous world.

Sen. Mike Johanns said while "he has been a long-time friend, we do have very different opinions on many very important issues."

"Now that he has been nominated, he has an obligation to elaborate on his past statements and fully explain his positions during what I expect to be a thorough and fair confirmation hearing," Johanns said.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 1/7/2013
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