Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel could leave his post before the end of President Barack Obama’s second term, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported, citing administration sources.
Obama faces a daunting foreign policy plate for his final two years in office, including combatting the Islamic State, dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions and an emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ignatius said that “administration officials speculate" that Hagel could be out "well before the president’s term ends." A potential replacement is former undersecretary Michele Flournoy, whom Obama nearly picked in 2013.
Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice are expected to stay put, Ignatius wrote.
As a Republican senator from Nebraska, Hagel became critical of the Iraq War during the final years of the Bush administration, though he initially supported it with some reluctance.
Ignatius also said that the White House "wants Antony Blinken, the deputy national security adviser, to move to the State Department to replace Bill Burns as deputy secretary.”
That would leave an opening for a replacement for Blinken at the National Security Council.
“Insiders mention other big-stature people who could help Rice manage policy, such as Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state,” Ignatius wrote.