John Brennan was his top counter-terrorism adviser and was involved in the planning of the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, as the next CIA Director.
Obama called Hagel “the leader that our troops deserve” and a “champion of our troops and our veterans and our military families.” He said Hagel, a former Army sergeant, would be the first person of enlisted rank and the first Vietnam War veteran to head the Defense Department.
"To help meet the challenges of our time, I'm proud to announce my choice for two key members of my national security team, Chuck Hagel for secretary of defence and John Brennan for director of the Central Intelligence Agency," Obama said in an announcement made in the East Room of the White House.
Obama hoped that the Senate will act on these confirmations promptly. "When it comes to national security, we don't like to leave a lot of gaps between the time that one set of leaders transitions out and another transitions in. So we need to get moving quickly on this," Obama said.
With today's announcement, Obama has made three top nominations to his national security team.Before Christmas, Obama had nominated Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his next Secretary of State, to replace Hillary Clinton.
If confirmed by the Senate, 66-year-old Hagel would replace, Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta. Brennan, 57, a former CIA analyst and CIA station head in Saudi Arabia before he joined the 2008 Obama Campaign and then his administration, would replace Gen (rtd) David Petraeus,who resigned last year citing extra-marital affairs.
In his remarks, Obama said over the past four years, his Administration has met responsibility of national security, by ending the war in Iraq and beginning a transition in Afghanistan, by decimating the al-Qaeda core and taking out Osama bin Laden, by disrupting terrorist plots and saving countless American lives.
Noting that the work of protecting the nation is never done, Obama said that he still has a lot to do when it comes to national security.
Soon Hagel was in Islamabad to address the concerns of Pakistani leadership with regard to the nuclear deal. "Our common interests go beyond the nuclear agreement. We need to be partners and stay engaged," Hagel had said.
The US views its relationship with India much beyond the civil nuclear agreement and Dr Singh emphasised the incredible
importance of it, he told reporters after the delegation met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Brennan, who is currently the Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counter terrorism, served for decades at the CIA as its Analyst and its Saudi Arabia Station Chief. Since 9/11, he has been on the front lines in the fight against al-Qaeda.
Over the past four years, he has been involved in virtually all major national security issues and will be able to hit the ground running at CIA.
"Brennan has the full trust and confidence of the President. For four years, he has seen the President every day, and been by his side for some of his toughest decisions,including the decision to launch the bin Laden raid. Brennan is as close to President Obama as any member of his national security team," Politico said.
Brennan, who described himself as “neither a Republican nor a Democrat,” said he would “make it my mission to ensure that the CIA has the tools it needs to keep our nation safe, and that its work always reflects the liberties, the freedoms and the values that we hold so dear.”