In First Speech As Defense Secretary, Hagel Says U.S. Should Use Its Power ‘Wisely’

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a speech before a gathering of Defense Department officials and military brass on Wednesday that the U.S. should remain engaged with its allies around the world and “reach out and find new alliances” based on common interests.

Hagel also told the group that he is “proud” to be leading the Pentagon, and that “it’s a great honor” and “a privilege” to join DOD. “You’re not joining my team,” Hagel said in the speech, “I am joining your team.”

“If there’s anything American has stood for more than any one thing, is that we are a force for good,” the newly minted Pentagon chief said later. “We’ve made mistakes. We’ll continue to make mistakes but we are a force for good.”

He also pledged to see that every Department of Defense employee is treated equally and without discrimination:

HAGEL: It’s also important for you to know that I am committed to … assuring that every person in the Department of Defense associated with the Department of Defense, civilian or military, is absolutely treated fairly, honestly, equal benefits, everything that each of you do should be dealt with on a fair and equal basis. No discrimination anywhere in any way.

The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart writes today that the fight over Hagel’s nomination and confirmation was really about “the struggle over the Bush doctrine” and the fact that Hagel has challenged the notion that military force should be used to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.


Hagel seemed to touch on this theme during his speech today, arguing that the United States should use its power to remained engaged in the world. “How we apply our power is particularly important,” he said, adding, “That engagement in the world should be done wisely.” Watch the clip: