Hagel offers combat edge to SecDef post

Hagel offers combat edge to SecDef post

If former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., is nominated and approved as the next defense secretary he’ll have one thing going into that job that few of his predecessors of the last 60 years have had: combat experience.

Caspar Weinberger, the defense secretary under Ronald Reagan, and Elliot Richardson, appointed by Richard Nixon, were the last two Pentagon bosses who experienced combat wearing a U.S. military uniform.

Weinberger served with the 41st Infantry Division during World War II. He began as an Army enlisted man, reportedly fighting in the jungles of New Guinea, but ended the war as an officer on the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.


Richardson, a Boston-born and Harvard educated son of a surgeon and Harvard professor, served as an officer with the 4th ID’, landing on Normandy on D-Day and fighting his way off Utah Beach. He served until the war’s end.

Most of those who served as Secretary of Defense since the job was created in 1949 had little or no military experience. Most of those who did served in peacetime or held administrative jobs.

Hagel was an enlisted man in Vietnam, a non-commissioned officer with the 9th Infantry Division. In a 2007 interview with the New York Times he described experiences Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans would recognize: people with explosives tied to their bodies; a sniper killing an officer near him with a single head-shot; and a solder sheared in half by a mine.

As a senator he raised the ire of those eager to invade Iraq. In that same interview with the Times, he explained that his Vietnam experience affected his view of the Iraq War and how it was sold.

As a Vietnam vet, he said he “was part of, I think, the forgotten group of people in all wars — that is, the person at the bottom who is expected to fight and die and has very little to say in policy, even tactics.” Hagel closely studied the Vietnam War to include listening to tapes declassified in the 1990s of President Johnson.

“The dishonesty of it was astounding — criminal, really,” Hagel told the Times. “I came to the conclusion that they used those people, used our young people. So I am very careful, especially now. We’d better ask all the tough questions. This [Bush] administration dismissed every tough question we asked. We were assured, ‘We know what we’re doing.’ That’s what they said in Vietnam.”

Frank Carlucci, who succeeded Weinberger in 1987, was in the Navy from 1952 to 1954, but spent the bulk of his career with the State Department and the CIA. Richard Cheney, who led the DoD from 1989 to 1992 under the first President Bush before becoming the vice president to the second Bush and leading the charge for the Iraq War, had no military experience.

In fact, Cheney secured a series of draft deferments during the Vietnam War and later famously justified his avoidance of military service because he “had other priorities.”

Les Aspin, appointed DoD boss by President Bill Clinton, served in the Army from 1966 to 1968 but was assigned to the Pentagon.

William Perry, who Clinton put in to replace Aspin after only a year, served in Japan with the occupation force. He eventually earned a commission through ROTC and served as an Army officer from 1950 to 1955. Nothing in his biographies indicates he served in the Korean War.

For his next defense secretary, Clinton – like Obama now – needed someone with conservative credentials to satisfy GOP senators who would be confirming or rejecting his choice. He reached out to former Maine Sen. William Cohen, a Republican who had served on the Senate Armed Services Committee but never in the military.

Donald Rumsfeld, President George W. Bush’s pick for Defense Secretary, had held the same job under President Gerald Ford. Rumsfeld was a Navy pilot from 1954 to 1957, and then continued in the Naval Reservist until retiring as a captain in 1989, according to the Defense Department.

Robert Gates, whose time at the Pentagon began under Bush and continued for more than two years under Obama, was an Air Force officer. He got his ROTC commission in 1967 under sponsorship of the CIA, where he would eventually spend a career after completing his military service as an intelligence officer with Strategic Air Command.

The man who now heads the Pentagon, Leon Panetta, also worked in military intelligence, serving as an Army officer from 1964 to 1966, said military experience such as Hegel has will give him a great amount of credibility, especially with the military.

Servicemembers like knowing that the person in charge has some military experience, says Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for Manpower, Reserve Affairs and Installations during Reagan’s first term. He said he learned that first hand when negotiating retirement changes and more with senior leaders in the 1980s.

Once he learned Korb served in the Navy and continued in the Naval Reserve, his tone changed and he asked: “Why didn’t you say you were in the Navy?”

Discussions immediately became more fruitful, Korb said.

“You know the strengths, the weaknesses and the cultural norms of the military,” he said. “The military has written rules and unwritten rules, and it helps when you have to make decisions if you know what these are.”

“I think it makes a big difference [that Hagel is a combat veteran] because there is going to be discussion, maybe even disagreement, on the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan, or if the war is even winnable,” Korb said. “He will be able to relate to that because of his experience.”

In Hagel’s case, whether the discussion is military pay and benefits or what it’s like to be wounded, Korb said Hagel can honestly say: “I know what you mean.”

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I read the first sentence and immediately said, “I want him as SecDef.”

Not too many American politicians today understand the sacrifices servicemen make from a first hand perspective, which helps explain the “screw the troops” attitude that a portion of them often have when our budget is made. I would like to see just one politician promote something like shutting down a useless program such as the Navy’s LCS and using the $40 billion in savings to improve the quality of living for our enlisted sailors.

Edit: I’m NOT expecting Senator Hagel to do that, but that’s just an extreme example of a positive change that I think the higher ups could make that would reflect an attitude of appreciation toward the services.

Unfortunately, illegal experimentation and torture are still in favor by the DOD: http://​usgovt​-atrocities​.com

And here come the crazies.

What happens at Ft Detrick stays at Fort Detrick…

You have a serious credibility issue when you have no proof. I’m not saying you’re lying as I have no way to know one way or the other but having worked around the government on and off since 1989 and having never seen any illegal experimentation I am more than a little skeptical. If I were you I’d obtain proof before making any accusations or statements.

Those of us who briefly wore jungle boots, can relate to his field experiences, now can he turn that into a beneficial force for the improvement of the soldier’s life.

Excellant choice from what is reported about him! Once on baord he needs to keep Retired General Punero (sp?) close to him and the Defense Business Board to help bring the Pentagon Beast under management control. Firs step should be to look at all the newly created postions since 9–11 that were created for retired high level officers and staff oversight functions…the positions should be abolished and put them to work at lower levels of added value work. Good luck on his confirmation. Hopefully the miltiatary industrial complex don’t make up dirt about him.

Gonna go see if there’s any companies in his district working on anything interesting.

Once they put their hooks into your district, you’re kind of beholden to ‘em.

This guy you mean? http://​dbb​.defense​.gov/​b​o​a​r​d​_​m​e​m​b​e​r​s​/​a​r​n​o​l​d​_​p​u​nar

too bad we can’t get a prior Navy enlisted man as SecDef, he’d stop the LCS program for sure since
it’s bound to be the graveyard of many sailors

So why are the Iranian’s so happy about this pick? http://​weaselzippers​.us/​2​0​1​2​/​1​2​/​1​7​/​i​r​a​n​i​a​n​-​s​t​ate–

This guy is the real deal. In Vietnam he was an 11B, earned the CIB and had two Purple Hearts.

With Prior-Military Service Candidates entering the Political Arena, “tough questions” will be asked with some credibility.….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….…
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No, you do not necessarily have to have been “Combat Arms”, or an “Officer” to understand how the “Boots On The Ground” will be effected.….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….…..
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I believe this Appointee will serve in this Nations “Best Interest” with genuine concern for Military Service Members.….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….……
.….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….…
I support this Nomination as in the Best Interest of this Nation and Military Services.….….….….….….….….….….……
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–De Oppresso Liber-Non Gratum Anus Rodentum-.….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….….

Ideally the next SECDEF will have spent as little time in the pointy building as possible.

It confirms that America is the Great Satan they all know and love.

Sounds like a great pick for SECDEF.

Excellent!, a fellow 11B; I still have yet to control my anger in reading my uncompleted volume of “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam” (my senior trip from high school :( ) is a book written by then Major, now Major General H.R. McMaster. Perhaps one of these days I can complete it and begin to understand why my fellow soldiers died.

Only time will tell.

Hagel is just one more really, really incompetent added to the feast of fools currently “in charge”.

Once you’re appointed to a nation cabinet-level position, you’re kinda not.

I suppose. Post-SecDef, William Cohen started a lobbying firm and Rumsfeld started a foundation. Gates is Chancellor at William & Mary.

Who proofreads these articles? What in the hell is a “solder?”

The Washington Post Editorial Board (not that I respect their opinion) just came out against him for not supporting sanctions on Iran.

Secretary of the Army White was a retired one star then an Enron executive before taking over the Army. Enron was on the cusp of a massive energy contract with the Army and it took him almost a year to divest himself of the company.

Remember hes arepublican, look how that little bastard MC cAIN TURNED HIS BACK ON SERVICEMEN..just sayin…

CIB,MOS 11B, and 2 Purple Hearts is all I need 2 know.

Let’s hope he’s not another Murtha!

The problems in the military area is this “politicians (instead of military people) decide how the war is conducted”! You can’t do this, you can’t do that, while the enemy can do everything, and nobody is bothered by that! They can kill US prisoners, can cut their throats, can drag them in the streets, can butcher them … and our “politicians” see nothing, hear nothing, or are too cowards to say “enough is enough”. Let the military do their job, which is one of the hardest on this earth, if not the hardest! Then we have the left wing media, who is hypeventilating and jumping over themselves for every little mistake or “illegal” things (see Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc.) with an anti-American attitude. That’s my problems!

Dosnt exist beause you didnt get a memo on it — LOL.

Is it any wonder the pentagon is such a mess with the low quality of its recruits.

We did, rummie.…remember how that turned out????

Who cares what the Iranians think.

SECDEF Donald Rumsfeld was a military officer; why didn’t you know that?

’54-’57, USN, naval aviator, then reserves until ’89.

Panetta was an officer through part of the ‘70s and it did him no favors.

Bush Senior got shot down over the Pacific. Kerry got shot at in Vietnam.

Military experiences doesn’t vaccinate a politician from anything, it’s just a temporary umbrella that can be blown away by a gust of partisanship.

IM NOT PLEASED ABOUT HIM HE THINKS HE CAN HAVE PEACE TALKS WITH A BUNCH OF TERRORIST LIKE THEY TRIED WITH HITLER

Hagel has said some very odd ideas about Iran and Islamic terrorism. He would be awful.

What an excellent choice. Why? Simple because he knows and felt the pain once in his youth years when he had to say good bye to his parents as they waited for him to take his longest and loneliest walk toward his 747 airplane for a departure to unknown land, fully known that his way of life and comfortness must be left behind for the rest of us to enjoy. His war experiences of hardship and sacrifice are the sure sign of hope in the future, especially in our military community.

It’s always good to see a SecDef with real combat experience. However his stance towards Iran is a bit troubling. It is one thing to want to avoid military action against them, but to oppose economic sanctions is completely irrational. Strict economic sanctions are far better than doing nothing.

I been hearing the right wing nuts are trying to block this one already.

Terrible choice, particularly given his bizarre and out-of-the-mainstream opposition to sanctions against Iran. Just goes to show how utterly, utterly bereft the Democratic bench is of credible national security leaders.

So, is that what it has come to now ? To the devil with the mission, what we want, what we need most of all is to make it easier on the troops ?

They have people, some very good people. But this Administration is not going to them. This Adminstration seems to be determined to unlearn all the lessons of Desert Storm and to institutionalize the damage wrought in Vietnam. It is not that Hagel is a veteran, there are lots of veterans out there. He is a Vietnam Veteran, with all the baggage that entails. We need leaders who want to win, not leaders who don’t even know what victory looks like.

Only way to end a war is to not have the politicians involved. They did not tie the hands of the military in world war two and look at what happenned. Had we taken the same attitude in the rest of the fights or policing actions like the were called sinve then they would have not lasted that long. Iran, Afghanistan, and the entire middle east would not have been a problem had we never stopped. They all could have been, along with their natural resources, U.S. states by know had we never stopped.

>So, is that what it has come to now ? To the devil with the mission, what we want, what we need most of all is to make it easier on the troops ?

yep, its not a professional military it has been corrupted by too much money. Our troops go into battle knowing they can escape responsibility and the consequences of defeat. And so they lose repeatedly.

The last thing a losing organisation wants is a winner as its leader.

But the military wants leaders who know what it’s like to lose and then cover it up.
Hagels doctrine is just like Powells — we cant be expected to win unless the enemy cooperates.

Chinese certianly think so, they are going like gangbusters in the vacuum created. Just as they have moved into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Al Quaedas strategy is to get the US out of the Middile East and Republicans strategy is to get the US out of the middle east. One wonders why we even bother fighting terrorism when we share the same goals.

LOL another one of those who learnt everything they know about geopolitics from playing risk solo.

Did you just conveniently forget the endless talk from the left about “getting out” of the Middle East during President Bush’s two terms? Now you’re claiming it is the Democrats who want to be responsible? Chinese business with Iran hasn’t done much to ease the effects of sanctions.

The Chinese are too smart to bother investing anything in that wasteland known as Afghanistan. Soon as we’re gone they are going to go back to killing each other and living in the stone age for another century or two. What the Chinese choose to invest in Iraq’s economy is something we can’t legally do much about.

Our troops lose repeatedly despite defeating the enemy in every engagement? How does that work? The only thing that has been lost is the will at home to try to raise Afghanistan out of 3rd world hellhole status, which is somewhat understandable considering the way this has dragged on despite how many of these savages we’ve killed.

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