Chuck Hagel was sworn in Wednesday as defense secretary - President Barack Obama's third in just over four years and the first who really wanted one of Washington's toughest jobs.
Introducing himself to Pentagon workers shortly after taking the oath of office, Hagel said he was humbled by the opportunity and ready for the challenge. He survived a contentious confirmation process in which some Republican senators questioned his suitability for the job and suggested he lacked the character to lead the military.
"I'll be honest, I'll be direct, I'll expect the same from you," he told a standing-room-only audience of several hundred civilian Defense Department workers and members of the military. "I'll never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do."
He called the automatic budget cuts due to take effect on Friday - to include $46 billion in Pentagon reductions - "a reality" that "we need to deal with."