Republican Chuck Hagel has been sworn in as the U.S. defense secretary in President Barack Obama's Democratic administration, following a bitter nomination fight in the Senate.
Addressing Pentagon employees after the ceremony, Hagel said: "We can't dictate to the world. But we must engage the world. We must lead with our allies."
He was confirmed on February 26 in the closest vote ever for a defense secretary, with just four fellow Republicans voting for him.
Republicans have seriously questioned Hagel's support for Israel and suggested he was too willing to compromise with Iran.
Hagel a former Republican senator for Nebraska and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, succeeds Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after four years as CIA director and Pentagon chief.
Hagel now faces $46 billion in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that will hit the Defense Department on March 1 unless a deal is reached by the Obama administration and Congress to avoid them.
Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP