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Hagel Warns Against Overreliance on Military Power

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Nov. 5, 2013.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday the United States should use all of instruments of power, not just its military, to lead the world against terrorism and other threats.

Hagel laid out a list of budget and strategic priorities for the Pentagon in what he called the post-9/11 era when President Barack Obama is moving the country off a perpetual war footing.

He told officials and strategists gathering at a global security forum put on by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that after 12 years of costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are fighting a tendency to look inward and stay out of world conflicts.

"Only looking inward is just as deadly a trap as hubris, " Hagel said. "We must avoid both in pursuing a successful foreign policy in the 21st century."

That strategy rests on operating with a smaller footprint, relying more on precise strikes by special operations forces and drones, training and assisting partner nations to deal with regional security challenges, and engaging in more humanitarian efforts.

Hagel said the United States remains responsible for taking on the challenges posed by non-state groups, terrorists, and criminal networks.

"No other nation has the will, the power, the capacity, the capability and the network of alliances to lead the international community in addressing them," he said. "However, sustaining our leadership will increasingly depend not only on the extent of our great power, but an appreciation of its limits and a wise deployment of our influence.”

The call for the wise use of resources comes as Pentagon faces its deepest budget cuts in decades, amounting to nearly a trillion dollars in the next 10 years.

More emphasis will have to be placed on civilian instruments of power with the military serving a supporting role in confronting threats and resolving conflicts around the world, Hagel said.

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