Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is vowing to continue to build strong relations around world and engage with allies. Hagel told the Pentagon workforce Wednesday that he is committed to ensuring that the troops and department civilians are treated fairly and equally.
"We renew old alliances, we reach out and find new alliances based on the common interests of people. There will be differences and we have great power and how we apply our power is particularly important. That engagement in the world should be done wisely."
The former Nebraska senator is taking the helm of the Defense Department as massive, automatic budget cuts loom and as complex negotiations with Afghanistan leaders intensify over winding down the war.
"As difficult as our jobs are, budget, sequestration, I don't need to dwell on all the good news there. That's a reality. We need to figure this out. You are doing that, you have been doing that. We need to deal with this reality."
Hagel was sworn in during a private ceremony near his new office Wednesday morning after a bruising Senate confirmation process. He said he then visited the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial for some time of reflection. He plans to spend his first day in the Pentagon meeting with his staff and senior defense leaders.