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Hagel sets tone, outlines challenges in first major policy speech

In his first major policy speech as secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel spoke at the National Defense University for nearly an hour, laying out the priorities of the department and addressing the changing national security landscape.

Addressing issues as wide ranging as the damaging effects of the sequester to North Korea's renewed belligerence, Hagel outlined both principled and practical questions for the department to consider. To the students in attendance he said,

As you move onward and upward in your careers, I would urge you to always keep three questions in mind before making a decision:

  • Does this help protect national security?
  • Is this in America’s strategic interests, which includes the political, economic, and moral dimensions of our interests and our responsibilities?
  • Is this worthy of the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, and their families?

Later he listed the challenges he faces trying to restructure the Pentagon with new and sudden budget constraints:

What is the right mix of civilian and military personnel across the Department and its various components? Within the force, what is the right balance between officers and enlisted? Without necessarily accepting the oft-stated claim that there are more than 300,000 service members performing civilian and commercial functions, what is the appropriate distribution of troops performing combat, support and administrative duties?