Concerned Veterans for America released the following statement, from chief Pete Hegseth, in opposition to the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense:

"America faces an unprecedented debt crisis that threatens the very fabric of our country; without spending reform—of both entitlement programs and the Pentagon budget—the weight of America's debt burden will seriously endanger our security and prosperity. Spending reform of the Pentagon budget—without compromising readiness or capabilities—will require a strategic-eye and steady leadership from the next Secretary of Defense. By nominating Senator Hagel for Secretary of Defense, we believe the White House is sending a strong signal about their unwillingness to engage in meaningful reform or define a clear vision for American defense policy, and we thus oppose this selection.

"CVA’s members share concerns about Senator Hagel's past positions that are a matter of record—timidity regarding Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons, unwillingness to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and equivocal positions on Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan. By appointing Senator Hagel, whose past defense policy record is questionable and forward-looking strategic contributions minimal, this administration seems to be doubling down on ambiguity as a substitute for clear thinking about defense and national security. What are America's strategic objectives for the coming decade? Just as importantly how are they prioritized? There have been multiple missed opportunities to highlight this problem in recent months, and Senator Hagel's nomination is another. How can a nation prioritize its defense spending when it has no real sense of what it expects its military to accomplish?

"America is at a delicate moment of transition in defense policy and spending. Senator Hagel has not proposed serious alternatives during these, or other, defense policy fights; nor has he made any significant contribution—either in office or out—to the even more fundamental questions about the future of U.S. defense posture, the shape and function of the defense establishment, or chronic and complicated spending problems at the Pentagon. His one recent response—speaking superficially about the prospect of sequestration—betrays this lack of depth. Indiscriminate sequestration cuts alone are not sufficient to change fundamental trends in defense spending. Real, fundamental reform is necessary to reform the defense establishment to both ensure our nation’s ability to maintain superiority and address our debt crisis.

"Our country owes Senator Hagel a debt of gratitude for his honorable service and valor in Vietnam, as well as his work for veterans both before, and during, his Senate career; Senator Hagel’s concern for the treatment of America's war veterans is unquestioned. Both of these facts would make him a great Secretary of Veterans Affairs, but not necessarily Secretary of Defense. Senator Hagel is the wrong man at the wrong time to lead the Department of Defense. CVA is disappointed, but not surprised, that the Administration does not recognize this, and did not take this opportunity to provide clarity, vision, and seriousness on the many issues facing the U.S. military and the country as a whole."

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