WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday announced that he will nominate former Republican senator Chuck Hagel as the next defense secretary, and his counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
At a formal announcement event at the White House, Obama called Hagel "the leader our troops deserve," and urged the Senate to move quickly on the confirmation process.
"As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength," said the president, stressing that Hagel "knows that war is not an abstraction."
Sitting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also commended Obama's choices at the event, saying that Hagel has a "deep understanding of national security issues."
Hagel, 66, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a moderate Republican, is expected to be a trusted ally of Obama on the issue of exit from Afghanistan. He served for two terms from 1997 to 2009 as U.S. senator for Nebraska, and was a leading Republican critic of the Iraq War. He is now chairperson for the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and a professor at Georgetown University.
In his brief comments on the nomination, Hagel said that he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the troops and to help " strengthen our country and our country's alliances."
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