hagel on resignation i did not make this decision lightly

President Barack Obama announced today that he had accepted Chuck Hagel’s resignation as Defense Secretary. Soon after, Hagel sent a message to the men and women of the Defense Department.

Here’s the full text of what the secretary said:


I wanted to use this chance to tell you that President Obama accepted my resignation letter this morning. I have agreed to stay on as Secretary of Defense until the United States Senate confirms my replacement.


You should know that this was not an easy choice for me. But after talking about it for a long time, the President and I both agreed that it was time for new leadership at the Pentagon.


I want you to know that I’m very happy with what we’ve done together. We, our allies, and the Afghan National Security Forces have all done what we could to get ready for a smooth transition in Afghanistan. We have taken the fight to ISIL, and with the help of Iraqis and other coalition members, we have slowed down this cruel enemy. We have helped millions of people all over the world who have been hurt by disease and natural disasters. We have worked hard to keep up our all-volunteer force, which has done so much for us over the past 13 years of war. We have also strengthened long-term alliances and made new partnerships stronger. At the same time, we have started important reforms that will make this institution ready for the challenges we will face in the coming decades.


The most important thing is that we have helped keep this country and its people safe. We have kept the freedoms that our ancestors fought for and kept the oath we took.


That work will continue. It must continue. We can’t lose focus because the world is still too dangerous and there are too many threats. Even though I promised the President my full support going forward, I also promise that I will work hard to support you until my last day in office. I owe that to you.


There will be another chance to say goodbye. For now, I just want you to know how much I appreciate your service and that of your families. This Thanksgiving, I’ll be spending time with my own family, which I know not everyone will be able to do. I’ll be most thankful for the chance to have worked with you over the last two years.

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