"Chuck Hagel's leadership of our military would be historic," he said. "He'd be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as Secretary of Defense, one of the few secretaries who have been wounded in war, and the first Vietnam veteran to lead the department.
As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, in Chuck Hagel our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. They see one of their own."
The President and Hagel have known each other for nearly a decade and served together on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Hagel spent two terms in the upper chamber of Congress and helped to lead the fight for passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Under President Reagan, Hagel served as a deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration, and while co-founding his own business, he served as the CEO of the United Service Organization. He's also co-chaired the Intelligence Advisory Board for President Obama.
"Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction," President Obama said. "He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that's something we only do when it's absolutely necessary."