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Obama nominates Rep. McHugh as Army secretary

By JEFF SCHOGOL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 3, 2009

ARLINGTON, Va. — President Barack Obama has nominated U.S. Rep. John M. McHugh, R-N.Y., to be the next Army secretary.

McHugh is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. His district includes Fort Drum, home of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.

At a White House ceremony Tuesday, Obama called McHugh a “champion of our men and women and uniform” who understands that the Army’s greatest strength is its people.

Obama praised McHugh for his work on acquisition reform and said McHugh understands the sacrifices soldiers and their families make.

“John shares my belief that a sustainable national security strategy must include a bipartisan consensus at home,” Obama said. “He hasn’t agreed with every decision my administration has made, but he brings patriotism and a pragmatism that has won him respect on both sides of the aisle.”

Last month, McHugh publicly criticized the president’s budget proposal for the Army, saying it failed to provide money for repair and replacement of equipment for units returning from combat overseas.

And while he supported efforts to reform the way the Pentagon researches and buys major weapons systems, he openly questioned whether Obama’s planned defense cuts represented a “procurement holiday” for the services.

“The Army is under tremendous pressure based partially on limited resources,” he told Pentagon officials at a House Armed Services Committee hearing in May. “If we continue down this path, something has to break.”

On Tuesday, McHugh vowed to work with the president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates as Army secretary.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I will do everything that I possibly can to work in concert with the Army leadership, to provide to you and to Secretary Gates the broadest base, the most accurate, the most informative information as you go forward in discharging your very, very weighty responsibilities in these dangerous times as commander and chief,” McHugh said.

If confirmed, McHugh would replace Army Secretary Peter Geren, whom Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked to stay in his current job until a successor was in place.

Stars and Stripes reporter Leo Shane III contributed to this story.