(WASHINGTON) -- Retired Gen. Colin Powell is bullish on Chuck Hagel as the next defense secretary.
Just after President Obama formally tapped the one-time Nebraska Republican senator last week to head the Pentagon, Powell was singing the praises of Hagel as being eminently qualified for the job.
On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Powell said that Hagel proved his mettle time and time again by volunteering for the unpopular Vietnam War, resigning from the Veterans' Administration when he felt that vets were getting short shrift, and leading the USO, the organization designed to support troops by providing morale, welfare and recreation-type services.
While fellow Republicans and some Democrats argue that Hagel may not be fit for the job because of controversial views in the past, Powell claimed the nominee already has the most resounding endorsement of all: "The men and women in the armed forces of the United States and their parents."
Powell, a former defense chief and secretary of state for two administrations, also deflected criticism that Hagel is not a stronger defender of Israel, saying nothing could be farther from the truth.
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