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“Protecting our national security with a strong defense is a responsibility I have always taken seriously. We face big challenges here at home and abroad, including our fight against terrorism, dealing with instability in the Middle East and North Africa, confronting nuclear weapons proliferation, addressing the growing threat of cyber-attacks, and bringing our troops home from Afghanistan to their families in a safe and responsible manner.  As we work to meet these challenges, America must maintain our ability to lead and strengthen our alliances around the world. For over a decade our military and federal budget has been stretched thin fighting two long wars. Now as we face budget challenges, the Defense Department must find ways to be more efficient and effective in maintaining a 21st century military. When President Obama nominated Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, I had questions on a number of issues, as did many of my colleagues. Our questions deserved answers and his nomination demanded a fair and thorough review. I have now had an opportunity to meet with Senator Hagel personally and speak with him directly about the challenges the Department of Defense will confront and his vision for leading the Pentagon. In our meeting, Senator Hagel showed refreshing sincerity and candor. In addition, he presented a quality that is not seen enough of in Washington and will serve our country well in the role of Secretary of Defense, the humility to admit mistakes and learn from them. After my meeting with Senator Hagel and the confirmation hearing process, I am confident that he will serve as an effective member of President Obama’s national security team and carry out the President’s vision of a 21st century military that reflects our American values. I will vote to confirm President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel. I have no doubt that he will serve as Secretary of Defense with the same integrity that he served our country as a war hero who earned two Purple Hearts. As a decorated war veteran, he has the military experience necessary to understand the needs of our troops and be an advocate for the men and women in our military. Senator Hagel has the national security qualifications and commitment to lead our service men and women that the people of Wisconsin and America want and deserve in their Secretary of Defense.”