Montanans react to Hagel departure

Montana’s federal delegation reacted Monday to the news that defense secretary Chuck Hagel planned to resign.

Tribune military reporter Jenn Rowell has the story:

“Chuck Hagel is a good man and a veteran who understands our country’s role in the world. He’s had one of the toughest jobs in the nation, and his shoes will be tough to fill,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Monday. “The nominee to replace him must be ready to take on our many global challenges and understand the important role Montana’s brave men and women play in our national defense.”

Hagel will stay in the job until a successor is confirmed by the Senate.

“Secretary Hagel has done the important work of winding down the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and I appreciate his years of dedicated service to the United States,” said Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont. “With the continued uncertainty of Russian aggression in eastern Europe and other threats from around the world, I hope the next secretary of defense will prioritize the value of Montana’s contribution to our national security by the outstanding airmen at Malmstrom and from the domestic readiness provided by the Montana Air and Army National Guard.”

For Republican Rep. Steve Daines, who will be moving to the Senate in January, a nominee should have “demonstrated a deep commitment to a strong national defense, the well-being of our men and women in uniform, and our allies — especially Israel. Equally important, I urge President Obama to give the next secretary of defense the freedom to put forward recommendations, in consultation with our military leaders, that are in the best interest of the country — rather than being met with endless political pressure from the White House to do otherwise.”

Read Jenn’s complete report at Follow Jenn Rowell on Twitter: @GFTrib_JRowell.