Secretary Hagel: It's time for a "fresh" leader

By Justin Fishel, Fox News Channel

In what was likely his last appearance at the Pentagon podium, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel did his best to explain why he’s leaving the job, yet may have left more question unanswered than answered.

After delivering prepared remarks about the DoD’s response to sexual assaults, Hagel was asked why he resigned - and if he was in fact fired – as has been widely reported.

Hagel told reporters that it was a mutual decision that came about after a series of private meetings with the President.  “When I say private, no one else has been in the room,” Hagel said. 

“So with all the speculation and all the smart people figuring out what was said and what wasn't said, only two people know what was said.  That's the president and me.”

Hagel also called President Obama a “friend" and said he couldn’t point to one major issue or point of contention that led to his resignation, but wasn’t clear on the more subtle reasons. 

“This was a mutual decision based on the discussions that we had.  I don't think there's ever one overriding or defining decision in situations like this, unless there's some obvious issue -- and there wasn't, between either one of us.”

Hagel said repeatedly he felt it was time for a “fresh” leader and “you have to know when to leave.”

He suggested the next two years present a whole new set of challenges.  But, when asked if he meant he wasn’t up to those challenges, he scoffed.  “Whether I thought I could do the job was not the issue.”

“No one ever knows about a job, especially a big job, until you get in – until you’re the actual practitioner of the job.  Now – you can read about it, your predecessors can tell you about it, you can think you know about it, and you can write about it and broadcast about it, but nobody knows about these jobs.”

He also suggested it would be good to have new civilian leadership in the department as many of the Joint Chiefs, including the Chairman, are expected to rotate out early next year.

Finally, Hagel got emotional.

“46 years ago today I arrived at Oakland, California on a transit back from Vietnam after I’d spent one year in Vietnam.  46 years ago today.  If anybody would have told Sergeant Hagel walking off that plane with my duffel bag where I’d be 46 years down the road that would have been pretty hard for me to believe.”

States, Pentagon Conflict with White House on Ebola Quarantine Policy

By: David Bastawrous—Special Report College Associate

While the White House continues to cast the decision of Gov. Christie and Gov. Cuomo to implement a quarantine for health workers returning from Ebola-stricken countries to New Jersey and New York as anti-science and “just wrong”, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday justified similar US Army policies due to operational efficiency.

The US Army on Monday began isolating about a dozen troops, including a two-star general, returning from Liberia to a US Army base in Vincenza, Italy. About 75 more troops will return from Western Africa throughout the week and will be placed in similar conditions.

The conditions, which a Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren, called “quarantine-like”, consist of “being checked regularly by medical professionals” and the soldiers will not “have any interaction with other personnel” for a period of 21 days.

Earnest on Tuesday dodged questions of whether or not the White House supports this policy. Though, a source in the administration told Fox News on Monday that “the White House was not happy” with the Pentagon’s decision.  

But Earnest did state that it’s “not unusual” for civilian policy to differ from Department of Defense policy. He justified the Army’s actions in the name of efficiency, reasoning that it is easier for the US Army to monitor their high numbers of personnel if their “movements are restricted” and are “co-located.”

The White House continued to caution enforcing a similar policy on the civilian population.

Echoing the CDC, as well as statements from Doctors Without Borders and an editorial from the New England Journal of Medicine, Earnest said that “science does not back up” the notion that mandatory quarantines on civilian personnel will stop the spread of Ebola, and stated that such a policy would “dissuade” volunteer healthcare personnel from traveling overseas to aid the efforts.

Similarly, President Obama today said that military personnel have a “different situation” in that they're “not there voluntarily” and “not treating patients.”

But it’s for that reason that many have asked why the US Army has imposed quarantine-like conditions on personnel who are not directly treating patients, while the CDC and the White House continue to discourage such restrictions on volunteers who have directly treated patients infected with Ebola.   

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday called the CDC guidelines “incredibly confusing.”

Christie claimed that the CDC has been too slow to act but are now “incrementally taking steps to the policy” put in effect in states like New Jersey.

On Monday, the CDC moved to encourage health personnel at high risk for developing Ebola, though they may be asymptomatic, to avoid commercial travel and “congregate gatherings” for an appropriate time consistent with the 21 day Ebola incubation period. Dr. Tom Frieden indicated that such personnel may be placed on a “Do Not Board” list for air travel.

“What’s the difference of telling someone who has been a health care worker at high risk that they can’t go in public places, public transportation, and we want them to work from home, what’s the difference between that and a quarantine?” Christie said. “They don’t want to admit that we’re right and they were wrong.”

Christie denied any political motivations for his decision, citing the six states, red and blue, who have implemented similar measures. 

Just In: Ebola Scare in Washington, DC

Just in: A woman got off a Metro bus this morning at the Pentagon and then boarded a shuttle bus that was headed to the Change of Command ceremony at the Marine Barracks at 8th and I in SE Washington D.C. Before that shuttle bus left the parking lot she got off and became ill. 

The woman is currently quarantined at a Virginia hospital and claimed to have been in Liberia two weeks ago.

The passengers on the bus were held on board for a period of time at the Marine Barracks. All passengers have now been let off of the bus before it drove away from where it had been parked.

All passengers who were aboard were questioned and screened--two of the passengers told our local FOX affiliate they were cleared and told to follow up with their individual doctors. The health department has not confirmed this information. 

More tonight on Special Report and we will bring you the latest on this story as we learn more. 

 

Women in combat--what do you think?

Four female service members have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Pentagon's policy that bares women from serving in direct combat positions. Since 1994, the Department of Defense has excluded women from direct combat positions. The women say the current rules keep them from promotions.


 


Women make up more than 14% of active-duty military and 20% of new recruits.


 


So we want to know-- what do you think? Should the rules change to allow women to serve in direct combat? Share your thoughts with us here on the blog and on Twitter @BretBaier and @SpecialReport!

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