Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may have resigned on Monday because he was at odds with President Barack Obama's strategy against the Islamic State (ISIS), Rep. Peter King told CNN's "Newsroom."
"It was becoming obvious over the last, I'd say, four to six weeks that there were differences between Secretary Hagel and the president regarding these ground troops, regarding what our policy should be against ISIS," the New York Republican said Monday. "Seems to me that he does not believe that the current policy's working, or was going to work."
Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran who twice received the Purple Heart, is also a former Republican Nebraska senator. He served as defense secretary since February 2013, after former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stepped down.
King, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, said that Hagel was also "not pleased with the sequestration that's going on" as the Obama administration makes cuts to the Pentagon's budget.
"With all of it, I just think that probably it was decided by the president and by Secretary Hagel that it was better for him to leave. I thought he did a better job than a lot of Republicans thought he was going to do," he said.
King said he wasn't sure "what the new policy's going to be" in the Islamic State campaign under a new defense secretary, because he wasn't sure "what the current policy is under President Obama."
Possible nominees for Hagel's replacement include former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, Democratic R.I. Sen. Jack Reed, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
Added to that list, King suggested Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a retired Army general who served as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but resigned in 2010 after unflattering remarks attributed to him and his aides toward Obama administration officials were printed in "Rolling Stone" magazine.
"Whatever differences there were between President Obama and General McChrystal several years ago back in 2010, the fact is that Gen. McChrystal was probably the most effective on-the-ground commander that we had in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he does have confidence from the military.
"And, I think it would also show that the president is willing to step out — that he's not going to be bound by past grievances," King said.
Hagel's departure was not "earth shattering," King said, but stressed it was "significant, because you generally don't see that kind of split of opinion" with the president.
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