Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), released the following statement after former Senator Hagel was confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense:

“It is clear that former Senator Hagel has a firm grasp on the national security challenges that our country faces, and the ability to lead the Department of Defense through this difficult time.

“As we work through our fiscal challenges, it is vital that the next Secretary of Defense work closely with Congress. The indiscriminate cuts that would be imposed on our military by sequestration would jeopardize our ability to confront the threats that we face around the world. Additionally, funding the federal government, particularly the Department of Defense, through a Continuing Resolution contributes to an atmosphere of uncertainty that undermines the ability of our military to perform its duties. As a former Senator, Hagel understands the importance of working with Congress.

“As we redeploy troops from Afghanistan, threats to our national security continue to emerge and evolve in places such as Yemen, Somalia and Northern Africa. The conflict in Syria threatens stability in the region. Iran continues to advance its nuclear enrichment, and the belligerent regime in North Korean continues to pose a threat to neighboring states. Meeting these challenges requires more than just the ability to maintain our military – it calls for sound judgment and an understanding of when and when not to deploy our military.

“The primary responsibility of the Secretary of Defense is to ensure that our military is prepared for action when called upon by the Commander-in-Chief. However, the Secretary of Defense also plays a key role in effecting broader national security policy. Working with leadership in the White House and other departments, I believe Senator Hagel would provide a thoughtful and wise voice in the development of a balanced national security policy that encompasses both hard and soft powers.

“As a former enlisted soldier, he understands the realities of war and the toll it takes on our service men and women, as well as their families. These characteristics, coupled with his private sector executive experience, provide former Senator Hagel with the skill set and knowledge to succeed as Secretary of Defense. I look forward to working with him to confront our national security challenges.”