New Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Addresses Pentagon

Chuck Hagel says America must engage the world and its allies to overcome challenges ahead.
3:00 | 02/27/13

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Transcript for New Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Addresses Pentagon
This is a special report. From ABC news now. Thank -- Wednesday morning everyone I'm Dan Cutler and New York Chuck Hagel is arriving at the Pentagon this morning after -- nomination battle for Defense Secretary in -- there after being confirmed by the senate yesterday. In the closest vote ever for a Defense Secretary. Republicans voting for him. In a private ceremony this morning he was officially sworn in as the nation's 24 secretary of defense. Historical perspectives before 1947 we -- -- secretary of war let's listen in now. I'm not gonna replay all those nice things I said about. Sergeant first class work except his mother. Magnificent wolf she's -- -- South Dakota. But she was born raised and grounded in Nebraska. Gordon Nebraska is where Sargent first class -- from. It's a little town up in the northwestern part of the state my family and I lived in that county assured and counting for five years my brother Tom and I who. Were. In Vietnam together served side by side actually for ten months of our twelve -- two hours. We had our -- out together. Back in the fifties. When dinosaurs roamed the earth. And I don't it was a two for one deal -- we had. It was the only hospital in three counties Gordon Nebraska so. I would say I have fond memories -- Gordon but nonetheless. Thank you. And thank you all for what if you are doing and have done we'll continue to do for a country and I also -- to address of course. The people all over the world. Who. Continue. To help make our country safe. Keep -- strong. And make America. The great nation and -- tremendous force for good. That America is. I want also acknowledge ship much of our. Leadership. In this institution who are here today. Specifically. We have to deputy. Secretary -- defense ash Carter who was here chairman. Joint chiefs. We've got to -- staffers -- the army. He makes me shake a little being an old army sergeant. But the sergeant major of the army scares the hell out of me so. I think he does -- general to actually -- And all of you who. Are so important to our country thank you. I. A couple of hours ago. Took the oath of office to become the 24. Secretary defense. It's a great -- it's -- privilege. Yes. For me my family. But to be part of your team. Who you war. Is the honor. Perhaps the great privilege. You're not joining my team I'm joining your team. And I want you know how program. Of the opportunity to present -- -- states has given me in the congress of the United States has given. And I would tell you that as I told president. Told congress that I will do everything in my power. To be the kind of leader. -- that you expect. And you deserve. Also the kind of leaders in the country. Expects. And deserves. We are living. A very defining time in the world you'll know. It's a difficult time it's it's a time of tremendous challenge. But there are opportunities and I think it's important that we all stay focused obviously on our jobs. Our responsibilities which are -- But not lose sight of of the possibilities for a better world. If there's one thing America has stood for more than any one thing. Is -- -- -- or a force for good. We make mistakes we've made mistakes we'll continue to make mistakes. But we are -- force for good. And we should never ever forget that and we should always keep that out in front as much as any one thing. That drives us every day as difficult as our jobs are. Budget. Sequestration. I don't need it. Dwell on all the good news there. That's a reality. We need to figure this out you were doing that you have been doing that we we need to to deal with this week reality. We've got up ahead of us. A lot of challenges. They are gonna defined much of who we are. Not this institution normally but our country. What kind of -- world our children are going to inherit mean that's that's the big. Challenge we have that's the bigger picture of the objective for all of us. Yes it's difficult. But it but it's also pretty special to me when you think about generations. In how many generations have had. An opportunity to be part of something great is difficult as this is with everything challenges. Coming -- us different kinds of challenges cyber issues you know all. But what we can really do some pretty special. For our country. I've said to. The congress president. As secretary of defense I will. Do everything I can to ensure. The safety the well being the future. A view your framers. I want to mention for a moment families. I think the families. Are always in a difficult spot may be the most difficult spot. Because they are left behind. They're dealing with a lot of -- control ports. And we are doing our job in in that consumes us that -- good. But the families have a tough time. And it's also important for you to know that I'm committed to -- -- told the president this the congress. Two assuring. That every person. In the department -- defense associated with the Department of Defense civilian or military. Is. Absolutely treated. Fairly. Honestly. Equal benefits. Everything that. Each of you do. -- should be dealt with on off on a fair and equal basis. No discrimination. Discrimination anywhere and -- anyway. I've always believed that. America's role in the world is one that and we've had variations of this throughout history. Has been warned that. Should engage. The world. We can't dictate to the world. But we must engage in the world we must lead with our allies. Allies are as everyone in this room knows particularly important. No nation is great as America is can do any of this alone. And we need to continue to build on the strong relationships. That we have built. I think what my friends. And my predecessors. Bob gates Leon Panetta have done. Build on that foundation. Did not just within our institutions here about. Teamwork which I have noted. But teamwork without -- We re new old alliances. We reach out and find new alliances based on the common interest. Of people. There will be differences. And we have great power and how we apply our power. Is particularly important. That engagement in the world. Should be done wisely. And the resources that we -- on behalf of our country and our allies should always be applied wisely. The world looks to America. For leadership. You know it's interesting when you look at. The turbulent. Times it we are going through in this country. The one institution. That's still maintains. Astounding credibility and confidence and trust in this country. Is this institution. The military and all those associated with. -- Gallup runs polls a year and they take the fifteen largest institution. In America the military's way appear. Well there's reason for that. The reason is essentially. What you have done. If you -- -- confidence you earn trust. It isn't given away nor should it ever be given away you've done that this through your sacrifices. And we don't -- squandered that. And we can use that. To. Rebuild. All -- necessary institutions. We have to deal with here in our country in the world the world can look to this institution. As an institution they can have confidence in and trust I will do everything within my power. To continued to build on to what secretaries Panetta and gates have. Begun to bill in which you all are beginning to bill as I said earlier. Another meeting leadership -- is a team business. It isn't about the leaders. It's about the team it is about the team everybody plays a role in that. In our -- This morning after I was sworn in. -- over external time to nine eleven. Memorial and the power chapel. And reflected. A bit. On what happened on that day. In 2001. I was on Capitol Hill. At the time everyone in this room remembers where you work. At 9:37. In the morning. On September 11 2001. And I surely remember exactly where it was but in Churchill's words. Long ago that was a jarring go wrong. That event. -- set in motion dynamics that we are living with today. You go back to almost 22 years ago. As chairman Dempsey noted this morning. In a meeting. 22 years ago tomorrow. In 1991. February 28. At the end of desert storm. If you take those two events. And start charting this. Not a Mike history. You start to see a picture emerge. Of a different kinds -- threats. New threats. And they'll be more news new threats. And if you gives you some dimension. When you back up a little bit and understand this. Not that any of us I don't think bush Smart enough to know what all -- figure it all up. But he gives us some dimension of what's going on in the world the world is such it's such an uncertain time our budget problems here. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Coming down but it's the uncertainty. Of the plan it's the -- certainty of the commitments and the uncertainty. Of what's ahead. People are always the most important resource of any institution you won't know. He'll always take your your people. Always take your your people first. And -- all done a tremendous job of that partly one of the reasons why this institution is so highly valued trusted. By the American people. We should take care your -- and again I say you. I will do everything within my power secretary defense. To be worthy of you. And to be worthy of this country and to do everything I can to make sure people are taking care of their families are veterans. One of the the proudest. Times in my twelve years in the United States senate. Is when. Friend and former Vietnam veteran. Jim Webb who spend little time in this building over the years he and I coauthored the post 9/11 GI bill. -- very proud of that. Having nothing to do to me. I was proud of that because we were able to get to World War II veterans. John Warner and Frank Lautenberg. Democrat Republicans. Jim Webb chuck -- to Vietnam veterans Democrat Republican. We got together and we got the votes we pass the bill. Now that's the way things should work for a country. Because the objective was not to give Jim -- truck -- anybody any credit or party. But the objective was to to to do so for the country to do certain for the people. Who sacrifice and who serve and who deserve. This kind of attention and in -- this kind. Of recognition. And I say that because much of my life. Has been about. Doing everything I could in some way to help veterans and their families where there was turning their. Agent Orange payment program -- what whatever was and I'm proud of that. I'm more proud of that than any businesses or anything else I've been involved. And I'm proud of my background I'm proud of my career like you -- But nothing makes me -- has ever made me prouder than my association with the military and the veterans. Well. Again to you each -- view in this room. Those of you who -- watching this. Around the world. I say to you thank you. Again I say thank you -- you. For your service your sacrifices. And I will do everything I can to be worthy. Of Sargent first class worth and his family and everybody. In this building and I look forward to working with you. You'll always know that you have a secretary of defense that. We'll deal straight when you. I'll be honest -- be direct I'll expect the same. From you I'll never ask anyone to do an -- thing I wouldn't do. I'll never ask anybody to do more than I wouldn't do. That's a story -- your lies -- wouldn't be worth it. If that was not the case again thank you for this tremendous. Opportunity. I'm I'm very proud. To be our new -- now. I -- go to work. Thank you. -- -- -- This you heard it right there first day on the job of got to go to work secretary Clinton's thinking for a mixed group of military and civilian employees. And mentioning some of the uphill battles that he's going to be facing -- -- -- budget cuts even. Doubts within his own party of whether he is up for the job. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Now here's a -- from this morning's good. Good morning -- -- got on ABC news now. We're back now with the power couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. He's a reality TV mogul behind hit shows like survivor and shark tank and his --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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