The New York Times reported Monday morning that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been asked to resign, and that President Barack Obama would announce his resignation in a Rose Garden ceremony Monday.
The paper reported that the White House believes Hagel is not the man to lead the U.S. fight against the Islamic State. However, many Republicans believe Obama's decision not to allow a substantial U.S. ground force to fight the terrorist group is the major factor that is preventing the U.S. from making real progress.
It's unclear whether a new Defense Secretary would signal that Obama is ready to rethink that limitation. But it might — the Times reported that Hagel's removal is meant to recognize the "stumbles in the government's early response to several national security issues" including the Islamic State and Ebola.
The move comes just as the administration is preparing to ask Congress for broader authority to fight the terrorist group. The air campaign in Iraq and Syria has been allowed under Obama's emergency authority to take steps to protect U.S. national security, but most in Congress agree some new authority is needed for the longer term.
Earlier this month, a key House Republican said Obama must keep open the option of ground troops in any new authority he requests.
The Times report said Hagel was a critic of the Iraq war with Obama when they were both in the Senate. But it said Hagel had problems influencing "Obama's closely knit set of loyalists" in the White House to develop policy.
The Times said Obama and Hagel had discussed the issue of Hagel's resignation together, and that both men agreed it was time for Hagel to move on.