The Straits Times
Published on Jan 08, 2013

Obama picks Brennan, Hagel to be new CIA, Pentagon chiefs


WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States (US) President Barack Obama on Monday nominated controversial former Republican senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon and proposed that hard-nosed counterterrorism czar John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The second term revamp to two pillars of Mr Obama's national security team is expected to win ultimate Senate approval, although Mr Hagel has been strongly criticised by fellow Republicans for his positions on Israel and Iran.

Mr Obama paid particular tribute to retiring Pentagon chief Leon Panetta before giving ringing endorsements to the "outstanding" Mr Hagel and Mr Brennan and urging the Senate not to dally in confirming their important appointments.

"Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. He is an American patriot," the president said, heaping praise on a war hero who was awarded two Purple Heart medals for his bravery as a soldier in Vietnam.