United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

Defense Secretary Hagel's Message

July 3, 2014
July 3, 2014
July 3, 2014

Independence Day Message


As we celebrate Independence Day, I want to express my gratitude to the men and women and their families who serve our nation at home and abroad. Thank you for all you do to help keep America safe.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed 238 years ago, 56 patriots pledged their lives and their sacred honor to defend our inviolable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They left a legacy that lives on today through generations of Americans who have made that same pledge to boldly stand up against tyranny, oppression, and persecution. Their devotion to duty is just as strong, as is their willingness to risk their lives for each other and our country.

Those who serve in our armed forces, and their families, have given so much to defend the ideals and free institutions we often take for granted. Their dedication reminds us that preserving America's liberties comes with a heavy cost. Today, as we celebrate our nation's birth, let us honor their service and strive to be worthy of their tremendous sacrifices.

God bless you, our great nation, and all who endeavor to defend it. Happy Fourth of July!

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

May 26, 2014
May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Message to the Force


Memorial Day is a time for citizens across this nation to remember and pay tribute to America's sons and daughters who sacrificed themselves in service to their country.

For the Department of Defense family, Memorial Day offers each of us a moment to quietly reflect on the more than 6,800 members of the Armed Forces who gave the last full measure of their devotion over the past 13 years of war. As we honor their service and sacrifice, we think of the mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters who they left behind. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to all of them.

As difficult as Memorial Day is for all of us who lost a loved one, friend, or teammate, it is also a day of hope. That's because the spirit of those who sacrificed so much lives on in each of us – and we will never forget them.

As Civil War veteran and former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said one Memorial Day long ago, "Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death – of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring."

This Memorial Day, as we honor our fellow countrymen who gave everything to a noble cause, we strive to be worthy of their great sacrifices as we all work toward making a better future for all mankind. That will remain our task for generations to come.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

May 19, 2014
May 19, 2014

Armed Forces Day Message


For the past 65 years, America has taken the opportunity each May to celebrate Armed Forces Day - a day when our nation expresses its deep and abiding gratitude for all those who help protect and defend our country and its people. In the words of President Dwight Eisenhower, "it is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world."

To every United States soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, and coast guardsmen: On this day, and all days, you have every reason to be proud to wear the uniform. You are members of the greatest fighting force on earth, one that strives to make a better world for all mankind. You are respected and admired by your friends, your fellow countrymen and our allies. Your presence is welcomed around the world, and you are making a profound difference in the world.

To our nation's military spouses, partners, children, parents, and families: Today we also recognize and celebrate the vital love and support you provide our men and women in uniform. We are grateful not only for their service and sacrifices, but also for yours.

To America's veterans: Today we thank you for devoting so much to the country you love, and we renew our unceasing commitment to honoring you with the care, the compassion, and the dignity you deserve.

As our nation marks its 13th consecutive Armed Forces Day at war, and as service members continue to return home from the battlefield, we reaffirm a basic responsibility that we all share. We must do more than merely hold these brave individuals in such high regard; we must support them in every way, knowing that whatever we do, we can always do more.

We're proud of all of you.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

March 4, 2014
March 4, 2014

Statement on the Release of the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget and 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review


Today the president released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget request for the Department of Defense. This defense budget contains the recommendations I announced last week and is responsible, balanced and realistic. It matches our strategy to our resources.

This budget also supports - and is informed by - our updated defense strategy outlined in the recently completed 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which is also being released today. This QDR defines the historic transition unfolding throughout our defense enterprise. As we move off the longest continuous war footing in our nation's history, this QDR explains how we will adapt, reshape, and rebalance our military for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

The QDR prioritizes America's highest security interests by focusing on three strategic pillars: defending the homeland against all threats; building security globally by projecting U.S. influence and deterring aggression; and remaining prepared to win decisively against any adversary should deterrence fail.

The QDR outlines key missions of our strategy - including the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, sustaining our security commitments in the Middle East and Europe, and building partnership capacity throughout the world.

The QDR highlights the critical capabilities - enduring and emerging - the military will need to operate across the full spectrum of conflict - including special operations, space, cyber, missile defense as well as certain conventional, high-intensity capabilities we should emphasize in today's fast moving security environment. It also recognizes the emerging technological capabilities of adversaries that will present new threats and challenges to the United States.

This year's QDR also considers resource constraints. These continued fiscal constraints cannot be ignored. It would be dishonest and irresponsible to present a QDR articulating a strategy disconnected from the reality of resource constraints. A strategy must have the resources for its implementation.

Today's world requires a strategy that is neither budget driven nor budget blind. We need a strategy that can be implemented with a realistic level of resources, and that is what this QDR provides.

This QDR clearly articulates the consequences - and risks - of budgetary constraints. In particular, it shows that sequestration-level cuts would result in unacceptable risks to our national security if they are re-imposed in Fiscal Year 2016, as is currently the law. The QDR shows that continued sequestration requires dangerous reductions to readiness and modernization. It would mean that DoD would be unable to fulfill its defense strategy, and it would put at risk America's traditional role as a guarantor of global security.

That's why the president's budget plan adds $115 billion above sequestration levels. These additional resources will be required to meet the president's defense strategy, although we will still be assuming higher risk for certain military missions because of continued fiscal constraints. It would have been irresponsible not to request these additional resources.

No strategy or budget is risk-free. Even the largest defense budgets have limits - as does our knowledge and ability to predict the future. But the strategy articulated by the QDR is one that department leaders and I believe is the right strategy given the reality we face.

There are difficult decisions ahead, but there are also opportunities. We have an opportunity to reshape our defense enterprise to be better prepared, positioned, and equipped to secure America's interests in the years ahead.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

February 25, 2014
February 25, 2014

Statement on Afghanistan


At President Obama's direction, and with my strong support, the Department of Defense will move ahead with additional contingency planning to ensure adequate plans are in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

This is a prudent step given that President Karzai has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which would provide DoD personnel with critical protections and authorities after 2014. I appreciate the efforts of General Dunford and our military leaders to provide flexibility to the President as we work to determine the future of our presence in Afghanistan.

As the United States military continues to move people and equipment out of the Afghan theater, our force posture over the next several months will provide various options for political leaders in the United States and NATO. And during this time DoD will still continue planning for U.S. participation in a NATO-led mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan security forces, as well as a narrowly focused counterterrorism mission.

The United States will consult closely with NATO Allies and ISAF Partners in the months ahead, and I look forward to discussing our planning with NATO and ISAF defense ministers in Brussels this week.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

January 28, 2014
January 28, 2014

Message to the Crew of the M/V Cape Ray


To Captain Jordan and the crew of the MV Cape Ray:

All of America wishes you well as you prepare to depart on your historic mission.

You are about to accomplish something no one has tried. You will be destroying, at sea, one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and helping make a safer world.

As you all know, your task will not be easy. Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.

You are ready. We all have complete confidence in each of you. You represent the best of our nation, not only because of your expertise and commitment, but because of your willingness to serve when called upon. For that, we will always be grateful. We are also grateful to your families for the love and support they have given you.

On behalf of our country and the American people, I wish you much success. Take care of yourselves. God Bless you all.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

January 17, 2014
January 17, 2014

Chuck Hagel on President Obama's Speech


I fully support the reforms to signals intelligence programs that President Obama outlined today - not only as Secretary of Defense, but as former co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and a former member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

These programs must always balance the need to defend our national security with the responsibility to preserve America's individual liberties, and the President's decisions and recommendations will do that. They will help restore the confidence of the American people and our allies and partners. They will preserve important capabilities that keep us safe. And they will help the men and women of America's military continue to accomplish their missions all over the world.

Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense

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