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Hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services - Confirmation Hearing of the Nomination of the Honorable Charles T. Hagel

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Good morning. The committee meets today to
consider the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary
of Defense.

But before we begin, I want to first welcome Senator Inhofe as
the new ranking Republican on our committee, succeeding Senator
McCain. Senator McCain has been a great partner over the last six
years, and I thank him for all that he has done to get our bills enacted,
for all of his leadership on a host of issues, for his support
of the work of this committee, and for always keeping our hearings
lively.

Senator Inhofe has shown his strong commitment to the national
defense over his 20 years on this committee, and I know that we
are going to work well together to continue the bipartisan tradition
of the committee.

We're also pleased to welcome the eight senators who are joining
the committee this year, both those who are new to the Senate and
those who are new to our committee--Senators Donnelly, Hirono,
Kaine, and King on the Democratic side, and Senators Blunt, Cruz,
Fischer, and Lee on the Republican side. You will all find that this
is a wonderful committee where we work across party lines to support
our troops and their families and their national defense mission.

I would also like to pause for a moment to offer my thanks and
the thanks of our committee to Secretary Panetta, who delayed his
retirement and his return to California to serve our country first
as director of Central Intelligence and then as Secretary of Defense.
Secretary Panetta has provided a steady hand at the Department
of Defense through two very difficult years, and has earned
or great respect and our appreciation.

Finally before we get started, I would like to announce that the
committee will be holding hearings next week on Benghazi and the
week thereafter on the impact of a sequester on the Department
of Defense.

Senator Hagel, we welcome you to the Armed Services Committee
and as an old friend of those of us with whom you served
during your years in the Senate. There are few jobs that are more
demanding than the position to which you have been nominated.
The hours are long and extremely challenging, and require sacrifices
from both the Secretary and his family.

We traditionally give our nominees an opportunity to introduce
their families at these hearings, and we would welcome your doing
so during your opening statement.

If confirmed, Senator Hagel would be the first former enlisted
man and the first veteran of the Vietnam War to serve as Secretary
of Defense. You cannot read Senator Hagel's account of his
military service and not be impressed by it. As Senator Hagel explained
a few years ago, quote, ""Probably most fundamental for me
when we talk of going to war, we need to think it through carefully,
not just for the political, and the geopolitical, and the diplomatic,
and the economic consequences, and those are important.
But at least for me,'' he said, ""this old infantry sergeant thinks
about when I was in Vietnam in 1968, someone needs to represent
that perspective in our government as well. The people in Washington
make the policy, but it's the little guys who come back in
the body bags.''

Senator Hagel's background provides an invaluable perspective,
not only with respect to the difficult decisions and recommendations
that a Secretary of Defense must make regarding the use of
force and the commitment of U.S. troops overseas, but also with respect
to the day-to-day decisions that a Secretary must make to ensure
that our men and women in uniform and their families receive
the support and assistance that they need and deserve.

It would be a positive message for our soldiers, sailors, airmen,
and marines in harm's way around the world to know that one of
their own holds the highest office in the Department of Defense,
and that he has their backs.

Senator Hagel, you would be in a position to make key recommendations
regarding Afghanistan, where we are down to the
pre-surge level of troops with 66,000 military personnel in the
country. The Secretary of Defense is called upon to advise the
President on the size and mission of a post-2014 so-called residual
force, and the pace of the drawdown between now and the end of
2014. The key to this transition is ensuring the readiness and ability
of Afghanistan security forces to take over the defense of their
own country. I have always believed that that should be our main
mission and its key to success.

During my trip to Afghanistan with Senator Jack Reed last
month, we heard from U.S. commanders on the ground that Afghanistan
security forces are operating on their own on most operations,
including conducting more than 85 percent of operations
with limited or no U.S. support in the difficult regional Command
East. Yet difficult obstacles remain to the process of reducing our
forces and shifting responsibility to Afghanistan forces, including
the difficulty of negotiating a status of forces agreement, including
recent reports that the Afghanistan government might slow down
a successful program of growing and training the Afghanistan local
police, and including questions about the current plan to reduce the
size of the Afghanistan national security forces from 352,000 to
around 230,000 after 2015.

We face a number of new and growing threats elsewhere in the
world, such as the ongoing threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons
program and the increasingly destructive civil war in Syria with
the risk that conflict could result in the loss of control over that
country's substantial stockpile of chemical weapons. There's also
the continuing instability in other countries affected by the Arab
Spring, the growth of al Qaeda affiliates in ungoverned regions, including
Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa, and the continued unpredictable
behavior of nuclear armed regime in North Korea.

We face these challenges at a time when the Department of Defense
budget is unique pressure as a result of cuts previously
agreed upon by Congress, the budgeting by continuing resolution,
and the impending threat of a sequester. Secretary Panetta has
said that a sequester would be devastating for our military. Senator
Hagel's views today on the continuing resolution and the sequester
will be of great interest to this committee and to the Nation.

Those of us who have served with Senator Hagel in the Senate
know that he is a man who is not afraid to speak his mind. Senator
Hagel has made a number of statements over the course of his career
which committee members will ask him about during today's
hearing. For example, Senator Hagel has stated that unilateral
sanctions against Iran, ""are exactly the wrong approach,'' and that,
""they are the worst thing we can do would be to try to isolate Iran.''
I believe that while effective multilateral sanctions are preferable,
that unilateral sanctions are an important part of the approach
that the Obama administration has followed, and that Congress
has supported. And it appears that sanctions are producing tremendous
pressure on Iran.

Another statement which has raised concern is Senator Hagel's
recommendation that we conduct, ""direct, unconditional, and comprehensive
talks with the Government of Iran.'' Now while there is
value in communicating with our adversaries, the formulation used
by Senator Hagel seemed to imply a willingness to talk to Iran on
some issues that I believe that most of us would view as non-negotiable,
and, therefore, any willingness to talk to Iran would need
to be highly conditional. Senator Hagel's reassurance to me in my
office that he supports the Obama administration's strong stance
against Iran is significant, and we look forward to hearing from
Senator Hagel today in some depth on that subject.

We will also be interested in Senator Hagel's addressing troubling
statements that he has made about Israel and its supporters
here in the United States, a statement in 2008 that our policy of
non-engagement with the Syrians, ""has isolated us more than the
Syrians,'' and a 2009 statement that we should not isolate Hamas,
a terrorist organization.

So there is much to be explored at this hearing, but as we struggle
with the difficult security challenges facing our Nation, the
President needs to have a Secretary of Defense in whom he has
trust, who will give him unvarnished advice, a person of integrity,
and one who has a personal understanding of the consequences of
decisions relative to the use of military force. Senator Hagel certainly
has those critically important qualifications to lead the Department
of Defense.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you very much, Senator Hagel. And
here is what the plan is now for the hearing.
We will have a first round of eight minutes each. We have a vote
that is scheduled for 12:15. We are going to work through that
vote, and we are also going to work through lunch, which means
that we would ask you to vote some time during that 12:15 vote
and come back for those of you who have not had your turn yet.
There are five votes at 2:15. I hope that we can complete our first
round by 2:00 or 2:15 so that we could then have a late lunch at
2:15 during those five votes. We would then come back perhaps an
hour later. We would ask those who have not had a turn, if that
is the case, or during our second round, that to begin our second
round that you on the final vote, vote early and then come back
so we can start as quickly as possible around 3:15 or 3:30, I would
assume, to either complete the first round if it has not been completed,
or to begin our second round.
Because of the time crunch, we have standard questions which
we ask of all nominees. I am going to ask those at a later time during
this hearing, but we will ask them. And again, I think that we
hope to finish today. We will leave the record open for questions.
But our goal would be to finish today no matter how long it takes
today, then to have the record open for questions.
So let us now begin our first round of 8 minutes.
Senator Hagel, you have made reference to the looming sequester.
We received a letter signed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff relative
to sequester which says that we are on the brink of creating a hollow
force due to an unprecedented convergence of budget conditions
and legislation. They have talked about the readiness crisis which
would result: grounding aircraft, returning ships to port, stop driving
combat vehicles, and training, and so forth.
Can you--and you have spoken very briefly about your agreeing
in general with the impact. Would you expand on the impact of
that sequester from your perspective?

Senator HAGEL. Well, Mr. Chairman, I think the Chiefs have laid
it out rather directly, plainly, as Secretary Panetta has. As recently
as two or three days ago, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ash
Carter, in an interview went into some detail.
The fact is, the bottom line if sequester would occur, it is not just
a reduction in a significant amount of dollars that would occur, but
it would be a convergence of taking the flexibility, the projection,
the management, the future, away from those who are responsible
for managing our budget. Furloughs--furloughing civilian employees
would have to occur. You listed an inventory of consequences
of cutting back on flying time, of training, of steaming. These are
real consequences that would occur.
I know the Pentagon, the Chiefs, those who have responsibility
for managing every department of this three million operation, security
institution, are preparing for the worst. But make no mistake,
this is not an exaggeration. And when managers are not
given the flexibility, and the opportunity, and the tools to manage
with complete uncertainty as to what is ahead, that is disaster.

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you. On the question of Iran and the
use of force, the President has said that Iran's leaders should understand
that President Obama does not have a policy of containment.
He has a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear
weapon, that he has made clear that he will not hesitate, in his
words, to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States
and its interests. Do you agree with President Obama's position
that, quote, ""all options should be on the table,'' closed quote, to
prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon?

Senator HAGEL. I do. I have, and I strongly agree with him.

Chairman LEVIN. On Iranian sanctions, President Obama has
said that the sanctions which have been put in place are crippling
the economy of Iran. I happen to agree. Their currency has dropped
80 percent. Oil production has plunged. Economy is in a shambles.
Do you share the President's views on the importance and effectiveness
of sanctions against Iran? And if so, how do you reconcile your
position with some of your past statements that suggest that the
national security of the United States is not served by isolating
Iran?

Senator HAGEL. Well, first, I do agree with--and always have
agreed with multilateral sanctions because I think they have an effect.
And I think this President in particular has probably done
more than any president to effectively employ those kinds of international
sanctions starting with a Security Council UN agreement
and UN mandates. So I agree with what the President is doing.
And I have said publicly incidentally long before the President ever
asked me to consider this job, that additional sanctions might be
required.
As to my record on votes in the Senate regarding unilateral sanctions,
I have differed on some of those. I have voted for some as
well. It was always on a case-by-case basis. When I voted against
some of those unilateral sanctions on Iran, it was a different time.
For example, I believe one was in 2001, 2001. We were at a different
place with Iran during that time. Matter of fact, I recall the
Bush administration did not want a renewal of the 5-year renewal
of ILSA during that time because they weren't sure of the effectiveness
of sanctions.
That was not the only reason I voted against it. It was because
I thought that there might be other ways to employ our vast ability
to harness power and allies. It was never a question of did I disagree
with the objective. The objective was, I think, very clear to
both of us.
I recall, for example, in 2008, Secretary of State Rice sending a
letter to the chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Baucus,
requesting that a sanctions resolution unilateral in the Finance
Committee not come out of the Finance Committee because the
Bush administration at the time was working with the Russians
specifically, but with the Security Council of the United Nations to
try to get international sanctions, which I think that effort, by the
way, in 2008, led to the 2010 international sanctions.

Chairman LEVIN. Can you give us your view on the size of the
U.S. force which might be necessary or would be necessary after
2014, the so-called residual force, if you have an opinion on the
size. You indicated in your opening statement two missions for that
residual force.
Can you also give us your opinion about the size of the Afghanistan
national security force after 2014, and whether you agree with
me, and Senator Graham on this committee, and others that we
ought to reconsider the position that the Afghanistan national security
force should be reduced by a third starting in 2014 to about
230,000 from what its current goal is, which is about 350,000.
Senator HAGEL. As you all know, General Allen has presented
his options to the President for the President's consideration. As
far as I know, as of this morning, the President had not made a
decision on what a residual force, numbers wise, would look like.
I have not been included in those discussions, so I do not know,
other than knowing that he has got a range of options as you do.
But I would say that from what the President has told me, what
Secretary Panetta has told me, that that decision will be made to
assure resourcing the mission and the capability of that mission.
As to what kind of a force structure should eventually be in place
by the Afghans, I do not know enough about the specifics to give
you a good answer, other than to say that I think that has to be
a decision that is made certainly with the President of Afghanistan,
what we can do to continue to support, and train, and protect our
interests within the scope of our ability to do that. Obviously the
immunity for our troops is an issue, which was an issue in Iraq.
All those considerations will be important and will be made. If I
am confirmed and in a position to give the President on that, I will
with consultation of our commanders on the ground and our Chiefs
giving the best options that we can provide.

Chairman LEVIN. Will you review that question of the size of the
Afghanistan force with an open mind if you are confirmed?

Senator HAGEL. I will because I think we have to.

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you. Senator Inhofe.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Chairman LEVIN. Earlier today, Senator Hagel, one of my colleagues
made a statement that you had not responded to requests
for copies of all your speeches and to requests about contributions
to certain organizations I believe that you either served or had spoken
to, and that you didn't have the opportunity at that time to
respond to that statement. I want to give you the opportunity now,
if you wish to, or if you prefer to respond for the record.

Senator HAGEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will respond for the
record. But I will take this opportunity to respond. First, as far as
I know--and I asked again at the break of our counsel, Ethics Office
lawyers, have we responded to all requests or are we in the
process of responding to every single request? The answer is yes.
Some of these requests didn't come in until yesterday, specifically
the financial documentation request. Copies of my speeches came
in late.
We have given the committee every copy of every speech that I
have that's out there, every video that I have that's out there. On
paid speeches, most every one of those paid speeches, in the contract
it says that they are private and not videotaped. That wasn't
my decision; that was the contract of the group I spoke to. I believe
every paid speech I gave I didn't have a prepared text. I gave it
extemporaneously, which is something I've been doing for long before
I left the Senate.
So we are fulfilling every legal commitment I said and I am obligated
to, and I've complied with every ethical request. I always
have. I did when I was in the Senate. I'll continue to do it now.
We are doing it now.

Chairman LEVIN. There was one or two other times when you did
not have the opportunity to reply to a question and, in order not
to use up all my time, you should feel free to do that for the record.
We're going to keep this record open until close of business tomorrow
for questions and for your answers close of business Monday,
which means 5:00 p.m. tomorrow for questions for the record, 5:00
p.m. on Monday for your responses to questions for the record.
At that time, would you give us the update on any additional
documents, speeches, or information that you have been requested
to provide which you have not yet been able to, but is in the works,
so you can give us an update?

Senator HAGEL. I will. And again, I have committed and will continue
to commit to complying with every legal document, legal requirement.

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator Cruz.
That ends the second round. If you want an opportunity to comment
on that. If not, I will ask you some other questions.
By the way, Senator Ayotte, in reaction to one of the things you
said about it doesn't matter what I believe, I think what you
were--first of all, I think it does matter. We all would agree it very
much matters what I believe. But I think what you were pointing
out is that ultimately what matters is what the President believes.
I think that's what you were aiming at.

Senator HAGEL. That's exactly what I was aiming at, and that's
what I meant to say, that's right. Thank you.

Chairman LEVIN. I'm now going to ask you the standard questions
that I've delayed, and these are just the questions we ask of
every nominee.
Have you adhered to applicable laws and regulations governing
conflicts of interest?

Senator HAGEL. Yes.

Chairman LEVIN. Have you assumed any duties or undertaken
any actions which would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation
process?

Senator HAGEL. I'm sorry? I didn't hear.

Chairman LEVIN. Have you assumed any duties or undertaken
any actions which would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation
process?

Senator HAGEL. No.

Chairman LEVIN. Will you ensure that your staff complies with
deadlines established for requested communications, including
questions for the record in hearings?

Senator HAGEL. Yes.

Chairman LEVIN. If you are confirmed, will you cooperate in providing
witnesses and briefers in response to Congressional requests?

Senator HAGEL. Yes.

Chairman LEVIN. Will those witnesses be protected from reprisal
for their testimony or their briefings?

Senator HAGEL. Yes.

Chairman LEVIN. Do you agree, if confirmed, to appear and testify
upon request before this committee?

Senator HAGEL. Yes.

Chairman LEVIN. And do you agree that you will provide documents,
including copies of electronic forms of communication, in a
timely manner when requested by a duly constituted committee or
to consult with the committee regarding the basis for any good
faith delay or denial in providing such documents?

Senator HAGEL. Yes.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Senator CRUZ. Thank you very much, and thank you for your testimony
today. You've been forthright and strong, and again I appreciate
your commitment to this country.

Senator HAGEL. Senator, Senator.

Chairman LEVIN. Another question?

Senator CRUZ. Very briefly, I wanted to thank you for your commitment
to this committee, number one, to provide a complete accounting
and copies of the speeches you've given; and number two,
to respond to the letter that you received two days ago requesting
specific financial information. I appreciate your commitment to do
that.
I also would ask you--in our discussion about Chas Freeman you
said you were not particularly close with him, but that your understanding
was his views were within the mainstream, if that's a fair
characterization.

Senator HAGEL. No, I didn't say in the mainstream. I said I don't
know.

Senator CRUZ. Okay. What I would ask you to do also as a follow-
up is to review in particular a speech that Mr. Freeman gave
on March 4, 2011, at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC, and
give me your judgment in terms of whether you agree with the
views on the Middle East and the views of the Nation of Israel that
are expressed in that speech. In particular, I would be interested
in your views on the fifth paragraph of that speech.
In my view, the views expressed in that speech are not accurate
and not within the mainstream, and I would be interested if you
concur in that assessment or if you have a different assessment.

Chairman LEVIN. That's a question you're asking for the record?

Senator CRUZ. For the record, yes.

[The information referred to follows:]
[COMMITTEE INSERT]

Chairman LEVIN. Okay. And other questions for the record need
to be submitted, as I said before, by tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.
I assume, Senator Cruz, that when you said that he's agreed to
provide all of the speeches, it would be all the speeches that he has
access to; is that fair?

Senator CRUZ. That he has or that he can get copies of. I would
certainly hope and expect that he would engage in reasonable efforts
to get copies of speeches if he doesn't have them in his immediate
files.

Chairman LEVIN. Well, we'll say that if you have easy access or
reasonable access to speeches you've given, even though you don't
have them, that we would expect that you could provide this as
well, as well as the other information you indicated you're perfectly
happy to submit, you just haven't had the time to get it ready.

Senator HAGEL. Mr. Chairman, I will commit to that and every
request, as we have. As I said, some of this I didn't see until yesterday.
But everything that is out there that we can find, we'll
make every effort to get it and provide it.

Chairman LEVIN. Well, we very much appreciate that, and your
openness in your responses today.
Again, the record will be open until tomorrow, as I said, at 5:00.
But your answers we would hope and expect would be in by Monday
at 5:00 p.m., because we would very much like to move this
nomination forward to a resolution, first on this committee, and
that timetable would help us move in an expeditious way.
We thank you. We thank your family and your friends.
And we will now--unless there are other questions, we will now
stand adjourned. Thank you.


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