Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday announced his resignation after leading the Defense Department for the past 21 months. “It’s been the greatest privilege of my life to lead and, most importantly, to serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families. I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished during this time,” said Hagel during a joint appearance with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. Hagel thanked the Pentagon’s senior leadership team, including Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, both of whom were in attendance. He noted that the efforts to transition from combat operations in Afghanistan to stability and support activities and to transform how DOD does business would not have been possible without them. Obama, speaking prior to Hagel, said the two had spoken recently about the direction of Obama’s remaining term and the pair reportedly agreed it was an “appropriate time” for Hagel to leave. Obama praised Hagel for devoting himself to America’s national security for decades since the Vietnam War. Hagel said he would continue to serve until the Senate confirms his successor. (Hagel statement and White House remarks) (Obama remarks)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.