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Many foreign policy heavyweights have come to Hagel’s defense, including former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served Republican and Democratic presidents respectively, and former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq Ryan Crocker.
Questions remain about Hagel’s approach to the defense budget.
Panetta has said the U.S. military would be hollowed out if $487 billion in planned spending reductions over the next decade are doubled - something that would happen if Obama and Congress fail to agree by the end of February on a way to avert automatic cuts due to kick in.
But Hagel said in an interview last year with the Financial Times: “I think the military needs to be pared down. I don’t think the military has really looked at themselves strategically, critically in a long, long time.”
His position in favor of deficit reduction raises questions about possible cuts or schedule delays to big weapons systems like Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to Jim McAleese, a defense consultant.
McAleese also named as being at risk of cuts or delays the Army’s planned Ground Combat Vehicle, the V-22 Osprey built by Boeing Co and Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc , and the Navy’s early work on developing a new ballistic missile submarine. McAleese said final decisions would be up to Congress, where such programs enjoy strong support.