Barack Obama choses Chuck Hagel as Defence Secretary and John Brennan as CIA chief

Barack Obama

Ahead of his second innings at the White House, US President Barack Obama has chosen former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as his next Defence Secretary and his top counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, involved in the planning of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, as the next CIA Director.

If confirmed by the Senate, 66-year-old Hagel would replace Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

Brennan, 57, a former CIA analyst and CIA station head in Saudi Arabia before he joined the 2008 Obama Campaign and then his administration, would replace Gen (rtd) David Petraeus, who resigned last year citing extra-marital affairs.

"To help meet the challenges of our time, I'm proud to announce my choice for two key members of my national security team, Chuck Hagel for secretary of defence and John Brennan for director of the Central Intelligence Agency," Obama said in an announcement made in the East Room of the White House.

Obama hoped that the Senate will act on these confirmations promptly.

"When it comes to national security, we don't like to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one set of leaders transitions out and another transitions in. So we need to get moving quickly on this," Obama said.

With yesterday's announcement, Obama has made three top nominations to his national security team.

Before Christmas, Obama had nominated Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his next Secretary of State, to replace Hillary Clinton.

In his remarks, Obama said over the past four years, his Administration has met responsibility of national security, by ending the war in Iraq and beginning a transition in Afghanistan, by decimating the al-Qaeda core and taking out bin Laden, by disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives.

Noting that the work of protecting the nation is never done, Obama said that he still has a lot to do when it comes to national security.

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