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His comments will likely be revisited during his upcoming Senate confirmation hearing, particularly as the department he would lead girds for the possibility of across-the-board cuts that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has labeled catastrophic and devastating for the military.
Hagel’s views may not necessarily be a negative to all members of the GOP.
“He’s clearly been critical of the size of the Pentagon,” Zakheim said. “There are many Republicans who believe the acquisition needs reforming; some compensation elements need reform; defense, health care and retirement need reforming.”
Zakheim said much will depend on what Hagel tells the Senate Armed Services Committee and senators in private. “Let’s face it, he is part of the club; he’s been a senator for many years,” Zakheim said. “I can’t think of anyone, other than John Tower, who didn’t make it through who was a senator himself.”
Megan Scully contributed to this report.