- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2014

The White House confirmed Monday that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is stepping down.

President Obama will announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation — first reported by The New York Times on Monday — in the White House later Monday morning.

“Over the past two years, Secretary Hagel helped manage an intense period of transition for the United States Armed Forces, including the drawdown in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions, and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready,” a senior administration official said.

“Over nearly two years, Secretary Hagel has been a steady hand, guiding our military through this transition, and helping us respond to challenges from [the Islamic State] to Ebola,” the official said. “In October, Secretary Hagel began speaking with the President about departing the administration given the natural post-midterms transition time.”

The official added that a successor to Mr. Hagel will be named “in short order,” and until then, the secretary will remain in his post.

He submitted his resignation Monday morning, and it was accepted by Mr. Obama, The Associated Press reported.

A White House official told AP that Mr. Obama and Mr. Hagel “determined that it was time for new leadership in the Pentagon.”

Mr. Obama reportedly asked the sole Republican on his national security to step down Friday after a series of meetings over the past several weeks.

Mr. Hagel leaves for the next defense secretary a host of issues to confront, notably the Obama administration’s military campaign against the Islamic State terrorist group.

The New York Times reported that possible replacements include Michele Flournoy, the former under secretary of defense; Sen. Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a former officer with the Army’s 82nd Airborne; and Ashton B. Carter, a former deputy secretary of defense.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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