President Obama has nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to be the next secretary of defense, igniting a fierce Senate debate over Hagel's positions on Israel and Iran and whether he's the right choice for the job.
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely is not impressed with the choice. Even before positions on key issues are considered, Vallely said Hagel is lacking in two key areas.
"He doesn't have that much corporate experience or running money, so I don't think he's strong on appropriations," Vallely told WND. "I don't think he has much strength in international relations, which is very important now in light of the international use of our military force around the world."
Gen. Vallely is also very frustrated by what he considers a troubling and persistent lack of vision from the top of the defense department.
"What I'm concerned about is that lack of a strategic thinker at the Pentagon today in light of the threats that we have," said Vallely, noting that he can't cite a single example of progress achieved by recent Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, and he fears Hagel would be more of the same.
"There are far more experienced people who have some strategic thinking capability that would be able to look at today and tomorrow and look at our threats and then construct the force or structure the armed forces to meet that threat and then the funding to support the structure."
"They're doing it all backward now," Vallely said. "They're looking at the money and looking at cutting this and cutting that, which is really not looking at the threats on our borders, the Middle East threat with Iran, what's happening worldwide on the international chessboard. So that's what concerns me more than anything, and that's why I don't think Chuck Hagel is qualified."
So what in Hagel's record gives Gen. Vallely pause? The challenges in the Middle East top the list, especially as they relate to Hagel's record on being critical of Israel, the ongoing civil war in Syria and what many see as a soft approach on the Iranian nuclear threat.
"I don't think he's well-schooled to understand internationally what the threats are to America," Vallely said. "I don't hear him talking in a global, strategic sense that he's got a good feel for it. I would say he's also very naive when it comes to Iran and its two main threats in the world: No. 1 is nuclear proliferation. Second is support of international terrorism and the global caliphate. Unless he can articulate that well, then he's not qualified to be secretary of defense."
Vallely predicts that, while the confirmation process may be noisy, enough Senate Republicans will go along with the nomination to avert a filibuster threat.