Bipartisan Group Of Former Top U.S. Security Officials Back Hagel’s Defense Secretary Bid

President Reagan with George Shultz

A bipartisan group of former Secretaries of State, Secretaries of Defense and National Security Advisers signed a letter to the Senate on Thursday urging members to confirm Chuck Hagel as the next Pentagon chief.

The letter, signed by former top U.S. officials such as Madeleine Albright, Robert Gates, William Perry and Colin Powell, says Hagel has “an impeccable record of public service that reflects leadership, integrity, and a keen reading of global dynamics”:

His approach to national security and debates about the use of American power is marked by a disciplined habit of thoughtfulness that is sorely needed and these qualities will serve him well as Secretary of Defense at a time when the United States must address a range of international issues that are unprecedented in scope. Our extensive experience working with Senator Hagel over the years has left us confident that he has the necessary background to succeed in the job of leading the largest federal agency.

Hagel has declared that we “knew we needed the world’s best military not because we wanted war but because we wanted to prevent war.” For those of us honored to have served as members of a president’s national security team, Senator Hagel clearly understands the essence and the burdens of leadership required of this high office. We hope this Committee and the U.S. Senate will promptly and favorably act on his nomination.

Most of the letter’s signatories have already come out in support of Hagel, but as Jim Lobe notes, the letter marks the first time former Secretary of State George Shultz and former National Security Adviser Robert “Bud” McFarlane — who both served under President Reagan — have publicly backed the Nebraska Republican.

The group joins dozens of former U.S. ambassadors, a bipartisan group of former national security advisers and retired military brass — and a growing list of current U.S. senators — in support of Hagel.