WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2013 - Just before his private swearing-in ceremony as the 24th secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel and his wife, Lilibet, arrived at the Pentagon this morning and were greeted by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, military assistant to the secretary of defense.
Hagel, delayed more than 30 minutes by Washington traffic, said hello to waiting members of the Pentagon press corps as he hurried up the steps of the Pentagon's river entrance. From there, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little and other defense officials accompanied him into the building.
Family members and his immediate office staff attended the ceremony, during which Hagel was sworn in by Director of Administration and Management Michael L. Rhodes.
Hagel then hosted the daily senior staff update meeting attended by DOD civilian and military leaders.
In a statement released after Hagel's Senate confirmation yesterday, Little said the new secretary received congratulatory phone calls from his predecessor, Leon E. Panetta, congressional leaders, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.
In his conversation with Secretary Shinseki, Little added, Hagel "indicated his desire to meet as soon as possible to continue and deepen the strong partnership between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs on common priorities for serving our troops, veterans and military families."
After the staff meeting, Hagel will speak to service members and civilian Defense Department employees in the Pentagon Auditorium. The address will be covered live on the Pentagon Channel. It's scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. EST.
This afternoon, Hagel will meet with the service secretaries and attend meetings at the White House.
Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement that he'd travelled across the world with Hagel and has seen him in action in the U.S. Senate.
"Wherever he is, his talent and dedication to our country are clear. He feels a deep commitment to our men and women in uniform, and as the head of the Pentagon, I know their interests will always be close to his heart," Biden said.
"Most importantly," he added, "I know the president will be able to rely on Chuck's sound, unvarnished judgment on any issue where our troops are involved. For that and many more reasons, I'm looking forward to working with Secretary Hagel."