- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has praised the Illinois National Guard for its two-decade partnership with Poland’s military.

Hagel was in Chicago Tuesday to deliver a speech on U.S. defense priorities.

During the address, Hagel held up the Guard’s relationship with Poland as an example of the kinds of international alliances the U.S. armed forces must seek out and strengthen.

Hagel said the partnership has paid dividends in helping Poland become a more capable ally and contribute to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Hagel said those types of partnerships are especially important as the U.S. moves to shrink the size of its armed forces as a result of budget cuts.

He called that a foundation of America’s approach to global security.