CAMBRIDGE -- US Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, an Army veteran and West Point graduate, answered with an emphatic “no” when asked Monday whether he was interested in becoming defense secretary.

“I have an extraordinary privilege of representing the people of Rhode Island,” said Reed, a Democrat who won reelection this month to a fourth term in the Senate, where he serves on the Armed Services Committee.

Reed, who spoke in the morning at Harvard Law School, said Chuck Hagel’s decision to resign after nearly two years in the position appeared to be one of “mutual accord” between him and President Obama, and that his decision did not reflect a lack of support for the president amid foreign policy crises in the Middle East.


Reed, who served with the 82d Airborne Division, has frequently been mentioned as a candidate for defense secretary.

Whoever succeeds Hagel should be able to forge a good, working relationship with the president, Reed said, as well as a “strategic sense of where you want the Department of Defense to go.”

The next defense secretary also will be faced with the financial challenges presented by another round of automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, Reed said.