Departing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may have sealed his exit in this interview with Charlie Rose last week. Rose conducted the interview at the Pentagon.
In the interview, Hagel made two key points that serve as accusations that President Barack Obama is mismanaging the United States military and the ISIS threat.
Rose asked Hagel to elaborate on comments that he made in a speech at the Reagan Library last weekend. In that speech, Hagel said that America’s military capability, while still the best in the world, is being threatened.
Hagel re-iterated that to Rose, but also left viewers to wonder about the direction that President Obama is taking the military.
“I am worried about it, I am concerned about it, Chairman Dempsey is, the chiefs are, every leader of this institution,” Hagel said, including Pentagon leadership but leaving both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s names out of his list of officials who are worried about the U.S. military’s declining capability. Hagel said that the Congress and the American people need to know what while the U.S. military remains the strongest, best trained and most motivated in the world, its lead is being threatened because of policies being implemented now.
Hagel went on to note that a good leader prepares their institution for future success, saying that “the main responsibility of any leader is to prepare your institution for the future. If you don’t do that, you’ve failed. I don’t care how good you are, how smart you are, any part of your job. If you don’t prepare your institution, you’ve failed.”
In the past couple of years, Hagel has warned that defense budget cuts implemented under President Obama were hurting readiness and capability. The “how smart you are” line may be a veiled shot at President Obama, who basks in a media image that he is a cerebral, professorial president.
In the same interview, Hagel also commented on the rise of ISIS and how it must be fought. Hagel charged that Obama’s handling of the ISIS threat is now indirectly assisting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
While President Obama has downplayed the ISIS threat, even calling the group “jayvee” as it rose to power, Hagel warned last week that it is a threat unlike any other we have ever faced.
“We’ve never seen an organization like ISIL that is so well-organized, so well-trained, so well-funded, so strategic, so brutal, so completely ruthless,” Hagel said. “We have never seen anything quite like that in one institution.
“And then they blend in ideology — which will eventually lose, we get that — and social media. The sophistication of their social media program is something that we’ve never seen before. You blend all of that together, that is an incredibly powerful new threat.”