Policy: National Security

Sources: Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief

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Photo - (FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between US President Barack Obama (L) and Chuck Hagel. Obama will reportedly nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary replacing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.  ***LEFT IMAGE***  WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 28:  U.S. President Barack Obama said he was "modestly optimistic" while making a statement on fiscal cliff negotiations following a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House December 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama and members of Congress continue to seek a solution to avert the possibility of large tax increases combined with deep spending cuts also known as the "fiscal cliff".  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)  ***RIGHT IMAGE*** OMAHA, NE- MARCH 12:  U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) speaks at the University of Nebraska-Omaha  March 12, 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska.  Hagel announced that he will postpone making a decision on whether to seek the Republican nomination for president until later this year.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between US President Barack Obama (L) and Chuck Hagel. Obama will reportedly nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary replacing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. ***LEFT IMAGE*** WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 28: U.S. President Barack Obama said he was "modestly optimistic" while making a statement on fiscal cliff negotiations following a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House December 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama and members of Congress continue to seek a solution to avert the possibility of large tax increases combined with deep spending cuts also known as the "fiscal cliff". (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** OMAHA, NE- MARCH 12: U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) speaks at the University of Nebraska-Omaha March 12, 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska. Hagel announced that he will postpone making a decision on whether to seek the Republican nomination for president until later this year. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Politics,White House,Associated Press,The Pentagon,National Security,Chuck Hagel

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is President Barack Obama's pick to be the next defense secretary.

That's the word from a senior Obama administration official and from a source close to the process for selecting a successor to retiring Pentagon chief Leon Panetta.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the imminent nomination.

Hagel is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and a former Nebraska senator.

His path to Senate confirmation might not be completely smooth. Former colleagues say he'll face tough questions about his stands on Israel and Iran, among other issues.

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