WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Decorated Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel was sworn in on Wednesday as U.S. secretary of defense.
Hagel, a former two-term Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska, was born in 1946 and has fought as an infantryman in the Vietnam War.
Though Hagel has built a strong relationship with President Barack Obama during their overseas trips as senators, his journey to the Pentagon was far from easy.
On Jan. 7, he was nominated by Obama as the new Pentagon chief, a decision objected by many Republicans who said he was not sufficiently supportive of Israel, tough enough on Iran and other national defense issues.
He was cirticized and grilled by Republican lawmakers at a nearly eight-hour confirmation hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee late January.
Senate Republicans launched a filibuster to block Hagel's nomination on Feb. 14. It was the first ever used to delay confirmation of a defense secretary nominee. The White House blasted the GOP move, with Spokesman Jay Carney charging Senate Republicans with putting "political posturing ahead of our nation's security."
On Feb. 26, Hagel passed a crucial cloture vote at the Senate with 18 Republicans breaking rank to stop their party's filibuster attempt.
The Senate later voted 58-41 to confirm Hagel, the closest vote ever to approve a defense secretary nominee.
Hagel has similar views with Obama on military issues and American power. But he will be taking over the Pentagon at a time of budget cuts and looming sequestration, on top of a strained relationship with Congress stemming from animosity created during his seven-week nomination saga.
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