The Pentagon on Friday sought to dispel rumors fueled by opinion columns that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had lost favor with the White House and would soon be replaced.
“The Secretary is fully committed” to serving as Pentagon chief for the remainder of President Obama’s term in office, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in response to a question at a Pentagon news conference.
Hagel was focused on the job ahead “and he looks forward to doing that for the remainder” of Obama’s term, Kirby said.
The Hagel rumors took off last week when he abruptly postponed a long-planned trip to Vietnam and Burma, saying through Kirby that he had to prepare for upcoming Congressional hearings on the budget and the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
One of the rumored replacements for Hagel was Michelle Flournoy, the former undersecretary of Defense for policy.
At a Pentagon news conference earlier this month, both Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied that they had difficulty getting their advice across to the White House.