Obama picks Hagel for defence chief, calls him 'the leader that our troops deserve'

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says Chuck Hagel, his choice as the new secretary of defence, is "the leader that our troops deserve."

Obama formally announced his choice on Monday, even as critics questioned Hagel's views on Israel and Iran.

Obama faces a potentially tough fight to get Hagel confirmed by the Senate.

The president praised the former senator's independence and bipartisan approach and said that Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, understands war is not an abstraction.

Hagel, a moderate Republican, has the support of some of his former Senate colleagues but faces opposition from others who accuse him of being soft on Iran and insufficiently supportive of Israel.