LIEUTENANT GENERAL MICHAEL HAGEE
|A book-smart infantryman who understands the military's high-tech future, Camp Pendleton's Lt. Gen. Michael Hagee is a solid, no-surprise choice as the Marine Corps' new leader, colleagues and analysts said yesterday. Hagee would lead the nation's smallest service during a crossroads period as the U.S. military fitfully evolves into a lighter, more agile fighting force the Corps' traditional strength. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has selected the combat-tested Vietnam veteran as the 33rd commandant in the Corps' 226-year history, according to news reports this week. Hagee directs about a third of the Marines' operating forces as commanding general of the 45,000 Marines in the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton. As commandant, he would oversee all 173,000 Marines. Marine Corps officials said they wouldn't comment on Hagee's likely nomination until President Bush makes it official, probably in the next few weeks. The selection also requires Senate confirmation. Requests to interview the three-star general yesterday were denied.
Hagee, a trim, 57-year-old Texan who speaks with a slight native twang, is described as someone with an engineer's brains and an even-keeled nature that has helped him negotiate the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency during his 34-year career.
"He's smart, he's flexible, he's pretty unflappable," said retired Marine Gen. Walter Boomer, a former assistant commandant and now a corporate executive in Connecticut. Hagee has a "brilliant mind" and isn't known to raise his voice or display anger, said Terry Murray, a retired Marine major general and Hagee's classmate at the U.S. Naval Academy. Hagee placed 75th in his class, earning an engineering degree with distinction, among the 836 graduates in the class of 1968, which included former Lt. Col. Oliver North and former
The Defense Secretary has unveiled a plan to transform the U.S. military, making it more nimble as it faces unconventional foes. Rumsfeld never would have selected Hagee or allowed Jones to be elevated if they weren't faithful to his transformational theme, analysts said. "With the rise of computers and remote targeting, we're in a major phase of change in the face of battle and military organizations. (Rumsfeld) is eager to promote people who support a common view of those changes," said Donald Abenheim, a visiting strategic analyst at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. "The Marine Corps is sort of marching ahead of this trend," Abenheim said.
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 6 SEPTEMBER 2002