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Chuck Hagel

New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference regarding the automatic spending cuts, Friday, March 1, 2013.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel took over his current position on February 27th, 2013. Hagel began his political career when he was elected as U.S. Senator from Nebraska in 1997. During his time as a senator, Hagel voted in favor of the Patriot Act, against the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and against No Child Left Behind. He voted in favor of the resolution to authorize military force in Iraq, but later voiced doubts over the venture. He left the Senate in 2009.

During the Vietnam War, Hagel served in the 9th Infantry Division from 1967 to 1968, reaching the rank of sergeant. He received two Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He served in the same infantry squad as his brother, and they saved each other's lives on different occasions.

In part due to Hagel's opposition to the Iraq War, his Secretary of Defense nomination was opposed by some of his former Republicans colleagues in the U.S. Senate, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Some of his remarks about Israel also angered some senators from both sides of the aisle.