Hagel: I will always do my best for our nation
Defense secretary nominee makes opening statement at Senate confirmation hearing
- Duration 19:28
- Date Jan 31, 2013
Defense secretary nominee makes opening statement at Senate confirmation hearing
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-- I am honored to come before you today.
As the president's nominee to be secretary of defense.
First as you suggested mr.
chairman let me introduce my family.
My wife -- -- Our son -- -- in our daughter Allen are not with this today.
-- or claims he's just taking a test.
We'll confirm that.
Son and daughter that -- -- and I are very proud of and I think like any proud father.
And any proud mother.
You all know how I feel about that as you have the same feelings about your children to simulate -- and I feel about ours.
I also want to introduce my brother Tom.
-- with me in Vietnam.
My brother Mike.
Who is our number three.
Brother and I might -- who actually.
Possesses any talent our family has -- has in the Pentagon.
-- chairman of the air force artist field over the years.
And there hanging in different locations -- and so we have one brother of some acclaim.
And -- one of us did make it my brother might.
Mike's son is sitting behind him Josh is one of three children that Mike Harris.
We have here also.
-- people oil money to that and and you know who knows -- who else and served.
Or two weeks.
I want to also thank my friends Sam Nunn and John Warner.
I want to thank them for their.
In their friendship.
Over many years.
And as each of you who had the privilege of serving with those two senators.
-- to add my thanks where there.
They're tremendous service to our country.
These two distinguished Americans.
Represented what's best about American public service and responsible bipartisanship.
They've embodied both in their careers.
Long distinguished careers.
And our models.
For each of us.
And of course to my family and friends and my fellow veterans who are here.
As has been.
-- -- and Jan Scruggs.
Good friends veterans from all worse -- are here today who I work with for many many years I'm grateful to them.
Not just to those to have friends and supporters and fellow veterans -- -- but those who are not thank you.
A life is only as good is still scrambling in the French you have.
And the people you surround yourself with it.
I also want to thank my friend.
For his tremendous service to our country over so many years.
If I'm given the privilege of succeeding him he will be -- -- -- President Obama for his conference and trust in me and I thank him.
I'm humbled by the opportunity in the possibility he's given me to serve our country wants to -- And I fully recognize the immense responsibilities that sector defense.
I assured the president that if I am confirmed by the United States senate.
There will always do my best.
I would always do my best for our nation.
And for the men and women and their families.
Who were called on to make the enormous sacrifices.
Of military service.
For safety success and welfare.
Will always be at the forefront of the decisions I make.
-- also assured the president that I would always provide him of my most honest and informed advice.
I make that same commitment to this committee.
And to the congress.
If confirmed -- will reach out to the members of this committee for advice and collaboration.
It will be a partnership.
Because a national security challenges America faces require.
Our nation's security is the highest priority of our leaders and our government and we cannot allow the work of confronting the great threats we face today.
To be held hostage to partisanship.
On either side of the -- Or by differences between the bodies represented in articles one and two of our constitution.
The stakes are too high.
Men and women of all political philosophies and parties in ideas die and fight for our country.
As this committee knows so well.
Protecting our national security.
Or committing a nation to war.
Can never become political litmus tests.
I know secretary Panetta has put a strong emphasis on reaching out to the congress.
I -- -- come from the congress.
And respect and understand this institutions indispensable role in setting policy.
And helping govern our country.
We -- all products of the forces that shape it's.
For me there's been nothing more important in my life.
Or -- more defining influence on my life.
In my family.
Whether it was helping my mother race for boys after my father -- World War II veteran died suddenly at age 39 on Christmas Day.
Were serving side by side my brother Tom in Vietnam.
-- the wonderful miracle of my wife's lawyer Brad and me being blessed with two beautiful children.
That is who I am.
We each bring to our responsibilities frames of reference.
These frames of reference.
Reform our life's experiences.
May help instruct our judgments.
We build out from those personal foundations by continually informing ourselves listening and learning.
Like each -- you.
I have a record.
A record that I'm proud.
A proud of our record not because of any accomplishments.
I may have achieved.
Because of an absence of mistakes.
But rather because I've tried to build that record based on living my life and fulfilling my responsibilities.
As honestly as I knew how.
It was hard work.
Underpinning everything I've done in my life was the belief that we must always be striving to make our nation a better and more secure place for all our people.
During the twelve years I had the privilege of serving the people of Nebraska in the United States senate.
I casts over 3000 votes and hundreds of committee votes.
Are also given hundreds of interviews and speeches and written a book.
So as you all know I'm on the record I'm on the record on many issues.
But no one individual vote.
No one individual quote.
No one individual statement defines me.
My beliefs -- my record.
My overall world view has never changed.
That America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world.
That we must lead in the international community.
To confront threats and challenges together.
And take advantage of opportunities.
That we must use all our tools of American power to protect our citizens and our interest.
I believe and I always have believed that America must engage in the world not retreat from the world but engage from the world.
My record is consistent on these points it's clear that we are living at a defining time.
Our nation is emerging from over a decade -- war.
We're brought our men and women in uniform home from Iraq.
And have started to bring them home from Afghanistan.
That does not mean that the threats we face and will continue to face.
Or any less dangerous or complicate.
In fact it is quite the opposite.
Recent events in -- in Algeria remind us clearly of this reality.
-- first -- complexities technologies economies threats.
Are bringing the seven billion global citizens closer together than ever before.
And as our planet adds another two billion people over the next 25 years.
The dangers complications inhuman demands.
Will not be lessened but rather heightened.
Despite these challenges.
I believe we also have historic opportunities.
To help build a safer.
More prosperous more secure.
More hopeful and just world that may be at any time in the history of man for all people.
Yes the curse of intolerance hatred in danger exists around the world.
And we must continue to be clear -- about -- -- And we will be.
We will not hesitate to use the full force -- the united states military defense of our security.
But we must also be Smart.
And more importantly wise.
Wise in how we employ all of our nation's great power.
America's continued leadership and strength at home and abroad.
Will be critically important for our country and the world.
Well we will not hesitate to act unilaterally.
It is essential that we work closely -- our allies and partners to enhance America's interest.
As well as global security.
If confirmed I will continue to build on the efforts of this administration.
And a former secretaries gates.
Secretary Panetta and Secretary Clinton.
To strengthen our alliances and partnerships around the world.
I will also look forward to work -- my former senate colleague your colleague.
And our friend John Kerry.
In this pursuit.
As I told president.
I'm committed to his positions on all issues of national security.
Specifically decisions -- the Department of Defense is in the process of implementing now.
This includes a defense strategic guidance the president outlined in January 2012.
Allow me to very briefly address a few of those specific issues now first.
We have a plan to place.
The plan in place to transition out of Afghanistan.
Continue bringing our troops home and in the war.
Which has been the longest war as we all know in America's history.
As you also know discussions are ongoing about what the US presence in Afghanistan will look like after 2014.
The president has made clear and I agree.
But there should be only two functions for US troops that remain in Afghanistan after -- fourteen.
Particularly to target al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
And training and advising Afghan forces.
It's time we -- -- -- partnership with Afghanistan.
For this government.
And most importantly.
-- -- people.
Second as secretary defense -- will ensure we stay vigilant.
And keep up the pressure on terrorists -- keeper up the pressure on terrorist organizations.
As they try to expand their affiliates around the world.
In places like Yemen Somalia.
And North Africa.
At the Pentagon that means continuing to invest in and build the tools to assist in that fight.
Such a special operations forces.
And new intelligence surveillance.
And reconnaissance technologies.
And it -- mean working hand in hand with our partners -- home.
Across the national security intelligence communities.
To confront these and other threats especially the emerging -- very dangerous and real threat.
A cyber warfare.
Third is I have made clear I'm fully committed to the president's goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons.
As I've been on record on that issue.
As I said in the past many times all options must be on the table to achieve that goal.
My policy has always been the same as the presents.
One of prevention.
Not of containment.
And the president has made clear that is the policy -- government.
-- secretary defense so make sure the department is prepared for any contingency that's my job that's my responsibility.
Auto insurer friend and ally Israel maintains its qualitative military edge in the region.
And we'll continue to support systems like iron dome which is today saving Israeli lives from terrorists rocket attacks that support.
I have always made clear and been on the record for.
While we pursue the reductions in our deployed stockpiles and launchers consistent with the new start treaty.
I'm committed to maintaining a modern strong safe and ready and effective nuclear arsenal.
America's nuclear to turn over the last 35 years.
Has played a central role in ensuring global security.
And the avoidance -- war war three.
I have been committed to that my record is clear on that I am committed to modernizing our nuclear arsenal.
As we emerge from this decade of war.
We must also broaden our nation's focus overseas.
As we look at future threats and challenges.
As this committee knows that's why -- is rebalancing its resources toward the Asia Pacific region.
We are in the process of modernizing our defense posture across the entire region to defend and deepen our partnerships with traditional allies.
Especially Japan South Korea.
Continued to defer.
Against provocations from states like North Korea.
As well as non state actors.
And to expand our networks of security cooperation throughout the region to combat terrorism.
Provide disaster relief fight piracy -- and sure.
I will continue this rebalancing even as we continue to work closely closely -- a long time allies.
And our friends.
And -- allies and partners and friends and other regions of the world.
But the same time we will continue to focus on challenges in the Middle East and North Africa.
Where we are clear national interest.
Rather is a recognition that the United States has been and always will be a Pacific power.
And the Asian Pacific area.
Is increasingly vital.
To America's security and economic interest that's why we must become even more engaged in the region over the coming years.
During all this and much more require Smart and strategic budget decisions.
I've made it clear I share Leon Panetta is in our service chiefs serious concerns about the impact sequestration would have on armed force.
As someone who has run businesses.
I know that the uncertainty and turbulence.
Of their current budget climate.
Makes it much more difficult to manage the Pentagon's resources.
In our national security.
If confirmed I'm committed to effectively and efficiently.
Using every single taxpayers dollar the right way to maintain the strongest military in the world.
And to working with congress.
To ensure the department has the resources it needs.
And that that disposition.
Of those resources.
Even as we deal with difficult budget decisions.
-- will never break America's commitment to our troops are veterans and our military families.
We will continue to invest in the well being.
Of our all volunteer force.
And working with the VA and other institutions we will make sure our troops and their families get the health care job opportunities.
And education they have earned and deserve.
Just as I did when I coauthored the post 9/11 GI bill was senators Jim Webb Frank Lautenberg.
And John Warner.
This includes focusing on the mental health of our fighting force because no one who volunteers to fight and die for this country.
Should ever feel.
Like that they have no word -- That's unacceptable.
In this country.
In my twelve years in the senate.
My one guiding principle.
On every security decision I made in every vote I cast was always -- simply this.
Is our policy.
Of our troops and their families.
And the sacrifices that we asked them to -- That same question will guide me if I'm confirmed as secretary defense.
Our men and women in uniform and their families must never doubt.
That their leaders first priority is them.
I believe my record of leadership on veterans issues over the years going back to my service and the veterans administration under President Reagan.
Demonstrates my rock solid commitment to our veterans and their families.
We must always take care of our people.
That's why I work to ensure that everyone who volunteers to fight for this country has the same rights and same opportunities.
As I've discussed with many of -- -- armies.
I'm fully committed.
To implementing the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
And doing everything possible under current law provide equal benefits to the families of all all our service members and their families.
Our work with the service chiefs -- we officially open combat positions to women a decision I strongly support.
And I will continue the important work to Leon Panetta has done to combat sexual assault.
Sexual assault in the military.
Maintain their health and well being of those who -- critical to maintaining a strong and capable military.
Because in institutions people.
Must always come first.
As we look ahead to the coming years we have an extraordinary opportunities.
An opportunity now.
At this moment.
To define what's next for America's military and our country.
It is incumbent upon all of us to make decisions that will ensure nation is prepared to confront any -- We may face in the future protect our citizens.
Remain the greatest force for good in the world.
If confirmed as secretary of defense.
It will be my great honor working with the president this committee the congress and our military.
To ensure our policies are worthy of the service and sacrifice.
Of America's men and women.
Thank you mr.
chairman I look forward to your questions.