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U.S. President Barack Obama on Mondaynominated Republican former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, tosucceed Leon Panetta as secretary of defense.

In a speech from the East Room of the White House, in which healso announced the nomination of counterterrorism chief John Brennanas new director of the CIA, Obama called Hagel "the leader that ourtroops deserve."

The president thanked Panetta for his work since 2011 as head ofthe Pentagon and part of "an incredible national security team," andreviewed such achievements as the withdrawal from Iraq, thetransition in Afghanistan and the death of Osama bin Laden.

With regard to Hagel, who was on hand for the occasion, thepresident noted the two Purple Hearts he received for his service inVietnam and that, if confirmed, the Nebraskan will become the firstformer enlisted man to serve as defense secretary.

Hagel knows that war is "something we only do when it'sabsolutely necessary," Obama said.

He also mentioned the Republican affiliation of Hagel, whorepresented Nebraska in the Senate from 1997-2009, and said thenominee "represents the bipartisan tradition that we need more of inWashington."

Hagel has been criticized by some Republicans for not beingsufficiently devoted to Israel and for criticizing the war in Iraqduring the presidency of George W. Bush. EFE

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