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Hagel Sworn in as Defense Secretary: Chuck Hagel became the 24th Defense Secretary on Wednesday, taking the oath of office during a ceremony in the Pentagon. He succeeded Leon Panetta who retired after 19 months in the office. Later in the day, Hagel hosted his first daily senior staff update meeting and then spoke to Defense Department personnel in an all-hands address. He said it was "a great honor" and "privilege" to lead DOD. "You'll always know that you have a Secretary of Defense who will deal straight with you, I'll be honest, I'll be direct, I'll expect the same from you," said Hagel. He said it's "a time of tremendous challenge," but called on personnel not to lose sight of "the possibilities for a better world." He assured the troops that he is committed "to assuring that every person" within DOD "is absolutely treated fairly, honestly" with "no discrimination anywhere in any way." He also said he "will do everything' within his power "to make sure our people are taken care of, their families, our veterans." (Includes AFPS report by Cheryl Pellerin) (Hagel transcript) (Hagel's new official biography)