Sources: Obama to nominate Hagel as Pentagon chief

By Julie Pace and Robert Burns/The Associated

WASHINGTON — 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.