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Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:05 PM

On First Day at Pentagon, Hagel Warns of Budget Cuts.

After surviving a long and bruising Senate confirmation battle, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel started his first day at the Pentagon on Wednesday morning by warning that looming cuts in military spending were one of the biggest challenges facing the Defense Department, but that the United States must continue to “engage with the world.”

Mr. Hagel did not speak at length about the budget on Wednesday. But, he said, the cuts are coming. “We need to deal with this reality,” he told an audience in the Pentagon auditorium.

Hours after being sworn in as the 24th defense secretary, Mr. Hagel struck a folksy tone in an auditorium filled with both military and civilian Defense Department employees, with some of the military’s top brass populating the front rows.

Eschewing the podium, he walked in front of the audience like a candidate at a town-hall-style meeting and played up his roots as an Army infantryman.

He called the United States a “force for good,” but said that it should not dictate its agenda to the world and must strive to build alliances among countries with common interests.


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