Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The President's Announcement Of The Departure Of Defense Secretary Hagel

"I thank Secretary Hagel for his decades of military and public service, and for his commitment to the American people and American values, at home and abroad. 

"Having worked with Chuck in the Senate, as well as during his tenure leading the Defense Department, I know firsthand of his integrity, decency and tirelessness.  He was the first former enlisted combat soldier to serve as defense secretary, and it was this experience that has been ever present in his work at the Pentagon.  His vocal support for equal opportunity in our Armed Forces has been groundbreaking and has made a real difference.  I advocated for the continued drawdown of our forces in Afghanistan, and I want to commend Chuck for his leadership on that and other difficult issues. 

"I particularly appreciate his work on U.S. landmine policy, from supporting President Obama’s ban on the use of anti-personnel mines outside Korea and beginning the destruction of our stockpile of mines outside Korea, to cosponsoring my 1997 legislation upon which these changes were based.  This is a priority he and I share.

"Marcelle and I offer Chuck and Lilibet all best wishes for the future."

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[Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is a senior member of the Defense Department's budget committee (Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee), co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus, and president pro tempore of the Senate.]

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