CNN: Hagel ‘Forced Out’ by a White House that ‘Is Micromanaging the Pentagon’
STARR: “The usual cast of names already circulating around Washington, I think it’s very early at this point to perhaps highlight any one of them. I want to go back to what we just saw. That was a very important optic that you saw. The Secretary of Defense, also a Vietnam veteran, Sergeant Chuck Hagel, and this time getting a very dignified sendoff from the White House, very deliberately I think, sending a message out to the troops that Hagel will have a dignified departure from office. Clear out all of the underbrush, clear out all of the politics, he was basically forced out by a White House perceived as micromanaging the Pentagon, micromanaging all of the decisions. Hagel, perhaps himself, not quite satisfied with what was going on.
He had been known to be objecting to some of the ISIS policy, particularly concerned about the involvement Syria and his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General, Martin Dempsey, also at odds with the White House publicly about the potential need for a small number of troops on the ground. So you saw a Pentagon and White House at odds. The question now is, what does this really mean for U.S. troops? Will the president shift gears? Will he shift policy? Removing Chuck Hagel, what does it really get you unless there’s going to be a policy change?
And that takes you to the question, who will be his successor? One of the names most mentioned, Michele Flournoy, a former Under Secretary of Policy, basically No. 3 at the Pentagon. I saw her last Saturday out in California, I chaired an event at the Reagan Presidential Library, she was on my panel then. Very much positioning herself, for some time now, as a centrist on defense policy, that she can work with both Republicans and Democrats. The temptation, perhaps, to name her to be the first female Secretary of Defense that is out there. Many people believe that I’ve already spoken to this morning talked about how qualified she is, she has long years of experience. But will she want the job? Senator Jack Reed already weighing in, saying he loves his job in the Senate. Former Deputy Secretary of Defense, No. 2, Ashton Carter has a lot of international experience. He is out there. The president may decide to go another way. I think it’s — I’ll go out on a limb, I would be very surprised if he picks a retired general or admiral.
I think he will reach into the civilian sector. There are a lot of people very well qualified, but I think it really goes back to this question. You’ve gotten Chuck Hagel out of office, where do you go from here? What have you achieved? What will the new policy be? And of course, for thousands, tens of thousands, of American troops and their families, the question is, what does it mean for them? Will they be headed back into Iraq, possibly into Syria? What does it mean for U.S. troops?”