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Chuck Hagel (President McCain)

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Chuck Hagel
Chuck Hagel
6th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Assumed office:
January 20, 2009
President: George W. Bush
Preceded by: Kevin C. Kiley
21st United States Secretary of Defense
In office:
January 20, 2001 – January 10, 2007
President: John McCain
Deputy: Gordon R. England
Preceded by: William Cohen
Succeded by: Robert Gates
United States Senator
from Nebraska
In office:
January 7, 1997 – January 3, 2001
President: John McCain
Preceded by: J. James Exon
Succeded by: Mike Johanns
Deputy Administrator of Veteran Affairs
In office:
1981 – 1982
President: John McCain
President: Ronald Reagan
Born: October 4, 1946 (age 62)
North Platte, Nebraska, U.S.A.
Nationality: American
Political party: Republican
Spouse: Lilibet Hagel
Children: Allyn Hagel
Ziller Hagel
Alma mater: University of Nebraska at Omaha
Occupation: Electronics executive, Politician
Religion: Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance: United States of America
Service/branch: United States Army
Years of service: 1967 - 1968
Rank: US Army E-5 insignia Sergeant
Battles/wars: Vietnam War
Awards: Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal
Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry
Combat Infantry Badge

Charles Timothy "Chuck" Hagel (born October 4, 1946) is an American politician. He was the United States Senator from Nebraska between 1997 and 2001, and served as the 21st United States Secretary of Defense between 2001 and 2007 under President John McCain and currently as the 6th Secretary of Veterans Affairs under President George W. Bush.

Early life and family

Born in North Platte, Nebraska, to Betty and Charles Hagel, who had German and Polish ancestry, he graduated from St. Bonaventure High School (now Scotus Central Catholic High School) in Columbus, Nebraska, and the Brown Institute for Radio and Television in 1966 and from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1972. Hagel is a Vietnam War veteran, having served in the United States Army infantry, attaining the rank of Sergeant (E-5) from 1967–1968. While serving during the Vietnam War, he received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. After returning from Vietnam, Hagel worked as a bartender and radio newscaster while finishing college.

Hagel married Lilibet Ziller in April, 1985. The couple live with their daughter, Allyn, and son, Ziller, in McLean, Virginia.

Hagel's brother, Thomas, also a veteran of the Vietnam War, is a professor at the University of Dayton School of Law.

Career in Washington

In 1971, Hagel was hired as a staffer for Congressman John Y. McCollister (R-NE), serving until 1977. For the next four years, he worked as a lobbyist for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, and, in 1980, he served as an organizer for the successful presidential campaign of former California Governor Ronald Reagan.

After Reagan's inauguration as President, Hagel was named deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration. In 1982, however, he resigned his post over a disagreement with V.A. Administrator Robert P. Nimmo, who was intent on cutting funding for V.A. programs, and who had referred to veterans groups as "greedy", and to Agent Orange as not much worse than a "little teenage acne".

Business career

After leaving government employment, Hagel co-founded Vanguard Cellular, a mobile phone manufacturer that made him a multi-millionaire. While working with Vanguard, he served as president and chief executive officer of the United Service Organizations and the Private Sector Council, as deputy director and chief operating officer of the 1990 G7 Summit, and on the board of directors or advisory committee of the American Red Cross, the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute, Bread for the World, and the Ripon Society. He also served as Chairman of the Agent Orange Settlement Fund and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Although he was pressured by some to run for Governor of Virginia, where he had lived for 20 years, in 1992 Hagel moved back to Nebraska to become president of the McCarthy Group, an investment banking firm. He also served as a Chairman and was CEO of American Information Systems Inc. (AIS), a voting machine manufacturer, this same company electronically counted 80% of the votes in the state in the very same election that he had his stunning upset. He did not disclose his position as CEO of the company in his mandated disclosures, until its name-change to Election Systems & Software (ES&S) in 1997. He had ownership interest in ES&S through its parent company The McCarthy Group as of January 29, 2003, when The Hill reported that, due to his ownership interest, “Hagel’s ethics filings pose disclosure issue”.

Senate carreer

In 1996, Chuck Hagel ran for the US Senate against Ben Nelson, who was the sitting governor of Nebraska. Although many people believed he had no chance of winning, he won a "stunning upset" in the election, receiving 56% of the vote (Nelson was later elected to Nebraska's other Senate seat, in 2000). During his first campaign, Hagel indicated that, were he to be elected, he would retire in 2008 after two terms in the Senate.

Since his election to the Senate in 1996, Hagel served as deputy whip for the Republican Caucus. He was chair of both the Senate Global Climate Change Observer Group and the Senate Oversight Task Force. He served as co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He also served on the NATO Observer Group. Hagel was a member of four Senate committees: Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Hagel's name was widely rumoured to be one of those considered by McCain as a potential running mate in the 2000 election.

Hagel had a tradition of wearing costumes to work on Halloween, usually masquerading as colleagues or other notable political figures, among these include Joe Biden, John McCain, Colin Powell, and Pat Roberts in past years.

Secretary of Defense

Hagel was named Defense Secretary soon after President John McCain took office in 2001. While assuming office, Hagel announced a series of sweeping reviews intended to transform the U.S. military into a lighter force. These studies were led by Pentagon analyst Andrew Marshall.

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Hagel led the military planning and execution of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Hagel pushed hard to send as strong a force as possible to both conflicts supported by forces of other NATO allies. In 2006, he contributed to the military planning of the aerial campaign against Sudan along with the military leadership of the other NATO countries.

Military reforms

As part of the McCain administration's reforms to strengthen the military, a series of reforms were made, including the scrubbing of the Pentagon budget for pork barrel projects. "Pork barrel" projects like the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser, and the Science Applications International Corporation Future Combat Systems were either cancelled or reorganised.

Progress in terms of finding an replacement of the ageing M16 and M4 were also made. The U.S. Army’s Delta Force and the American defense manufacturing company Colt Defence collaborated with the German defense manufacturing companiy Heckler & Koch to develop the new carbine. The result was the HK416 (in U.S. service given the designation HKM4). As the first U.S. Army unit, Delta Force replaced its M4s with the HKM4 in 2004 after tests revealed that the piston operating system significantly reduces malfunctions while increasing the life of parts.

The carbine uses a proprietary gas system derived from the HK G36, replacing the direct impingement gas system used by the standard M16/M4. The HK system uses a short-stroke piston driving an operating rod to force the bolt carrier to the rear. This design prevents combustion gases from entering the weapon’s interior, a short-coming with direct impingement systems. The reduction in heat and fouling of the bolt carrier group increases the reliability of the weapon and extends the interval between stoppages. It also reduces operator cleaning time and stress on critical components.

Beginning in 2009, the HKM4 is replacing the M4 in some combat units stationed overseas, while Norway and Turkey has made the HK416 their new main assault rifles.


On September 6, 2006, Hagel announced that he would be retiring as the Secretary of Defence at the end of the year. He left office on January 10, 2007, and was replaced by Homeland Security Secretary Robert Gates.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

On December 7, 2008, then-President-elect George W. Bush announced at a press conference that once in office, he would nominate Hagel to become the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on January 20, 2009.

Awards and honors

Hagel is a Nebraska Admiral, an honorary title considering Nebraska is a landlocked state. On June 9, 2007, he gave the commencement address for North Central College and was given an honorary L.L.D.

See also

Political offices
Seal Of Department of Veterans Affairs Preceded by:
Kevin C. Kiley

6th Secretary of Veterans Affairs of the United States
2009 – present

Seal Of Department of Defense Preceded by:
William Cohen

21st Secretary of Defense of the United States
2001 – 2007

Succeeded by:
Robert Gates
United States Senate
Seal Of the Unites States Senate Preceded by:
J. James Exon

United States Senator (Class 2) from Nebraska
1997 – 2001
Served alongside: Bob Kerrey, Ben Nelson

Succeeded by:
Mike Johanns
Party political offices
Repubican Party (USA) Logo Preceded by:
Hal Daub

Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Nebraska (Class 2)

Succeeded by:
Mike Johanns
Order of precedence in the United States of America
Great Seal of the United States (obverse) Preceded by:
Bill Benett
Secretary of Education
United States order of precedence
United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by:
Tom Ridge
Secretary of Homeland Security
United States Presidential Line of Succession
12th in line

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