Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during an anniversary marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during an anniversary marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. CSPAN

Hagel: Vietnam War Offers Lessons for Islamic State Fight

The former defense secretary shares some insight ahead of the congressional commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the war in Indochina.

Chuck Hagel urged judicious use of the U.S. military against the Islamic State on Wednesday, in one of his first returns to Capitol Hill after stepping down as defense secretary four months ago.

Asked what can be learned from the Vietnam War about fighting ISIS, Hagel said, Well, I think always the lesson you learn from past wars and military involvements is you use your military wisely, judiciously, prudently, and it has to fit an overall strategy.”

Operation Inherent Resolve began 11 months ago today, when Hagel was at the helm at the Pentagon. Republican lawmakers have been particularly critical of President Obama’s approach, claiming the administration lacks a strategy. On Monday, Obama defended his continued caution in wielding U.S. military might against the terrorist group, and similarly urged patience.

(RelatedHagel the Grunt, McCain the Pilot, and Vietnam’s Effect on Syria)

At a Wednesday ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, Hagel, a two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, joined his replacement, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and leaders from both parties and chambers. Hagel is the only enlisted combat veteran, as well as the only Vietnam veteran, to serve as defense secretary.

Carter gave remarks at the ceremony Wednesday afternoon, followed by Hagel, who shared some memories of the war. It is one of their first joint appearances in public since Hagel’s resignation, and Hagel’s remarks are some of his first since he left Obama’s cabinet.

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