America cannot "dictate to the world" and must work with allies and build relationships with other nations, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said shortly after being sworn as the new Pentagon chief.
Hagel, while addressing a Pentagon audience of civilian officials and military officers, said America was a powerful country but could not accomplish its goals without forging strong alliances, reports The Express Tribune.
Hagel's comments echoed President Barack Obama's emphasis on extricating the country from a decade of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
US troops have pulled out of Iraq in 2011 and roughly 66,000 American forces are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a drawdown that Hagel will be charged with overseeing.
Hagel, 66, has become the first combat veteran from the Vietnam conflict to take up the Pentagon post.
Within 48 hours after being sworn in, Hagel will confront steep automatic cuts to the Pentagon's budget of roughly 46 billion dollars which are due to kick in Friday amid political deadlock in Congress.
Hagel also will have to grapple with a major troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, renewed threats posed by a defiant North Korea and turmoil in the Middle East.
Hagel's searing experience in the jungles of Vietnam has shaped his cautious view of military power.
In Vietnam, Hagel served with his brother as an infantry squad leader and saw combat first-hand in the Mekong Delta, earning two Purple Hearts after suffering shrapnel wounds to his chest and burns to his face. He still has some shrapnel fragments lodged in his chest.