Center for Strategic Communication

Hagel DODYesterday I was with around 300 invited VIP guests at the Pentagon, I watched with admiration and pride as Chuck Hagel was ceremonially sworn in.

Coming off a bruising confirmation battle, he had the humility to joke about it and say he came out “a better man.”

He then went on to praise his former Viet Nam compatriots that were there and then speak glowingly about today’s uniformed men and women – to include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey.

Just as important, however, was that he had just come from a three hour meeting with the Combatant Commanders – discussing our defense strategy and how we are going to adjust to the coming budget constraints.

He’s hit the ground running and knows what to do and how to do it – as reiterated by Vice President Biden at the event, who detailed how Chuck Hagel will go out of his way to talk to non-commissioned officers (corporals and sergeants) to find out the ground truth in the military.

Secretary Hagel’s humility, knowledge, and acumen will stand him in great stead in this job!!

For me, the new Secretary’s remarks hit home.

He spoke about how the world is changing at an unprecedented rate – presenting abundant challenges, but also abundant possibility.

He noted that the essence of a successful generation is how they respond to challenge,

“Not many people ever have an opportunity to shape and define the world and shape and define the future,” the secretary said. “We all have that opportunity now.”

As the DOD news service reported this morning:

The trials lying ahead of the department are unlikely to go away quickly, Hagel said, but its people should not get bogged down in short-term thinking. “When we step back and think … it’s about things that are so much bigger than all of us,” he said.

Militaries have long been forced to adapt to the realities of their time and the dynamics and threats of those times, Hagel said. “Those that did not were defeated, or they declined, or they just disappeared,” he continued. “The future of our country in a defining world order is at play right now.”

Alliances and relationships are essential to the survival of mankind, the secretary said. “I don’t know if there’s ever been a time in the history of man when it also represents so many possibilities and so much potential to do so much good in so many different ways if we’re just wise enough to use the resources that we have to build relationships … That’s where we start.”

“Together we will make this a better world and we’ll make a better world for all mankind,” Hagel said.

This is what ASP was founded – by Secretaries Kerry and Hagel with others to work on.

The American Security Project is dedicated to examining these issues from a strategic perspective, clarifying the challenges, understanding the threats, and crafting sustainable military and non-military responses. In doing so, we are guided by an appreciation of the value of internationalism to America’s security; a common understanding of the challenges we face as a county; a healthy respect for the potential and limits of all the tools of American power; and a desire for the United States to reestablish its moral leadership within the global commons.

The purpose and appropriate use of American power in the world are among the most important issues facing the United States today. The American Security Project will lead this debate in an effort to produce a stronger America – Gary Hart, ASP Chairman