(NBC NEWS) -- Of all President Obama's cabinet nominees, what's expected to be the toughest one, goes up for his confirmation hearing today.
He'll appear before the Armed Services Committee today - introduced by two former chairs - a Republican and a Democrat. Both sides have expressed concerns about his views.
Former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel goes before the armed services committee today... On the defense.
Critics concerns are that Hagel is soft on Iran, too tough on Israel, and anti-gay.
In a 112-page response to the committee, Hagel takes a hardline, but hardcore Republicans aren't convinced. "Senator Hagel has not undergone an abrupt ideological makeover. He just wants to win approval from members of this chamber," said Senator John Cornyn, (R) Texas.
Despite the opposition, the White House is optimistic. Hagel has met with 60 senators. Some Republicans are friendly, and so far. They count no "no" votes among Democrats. "Chuck will be confirmed - but it won't be without a fight," said Senator Bill Nelson, (D) Florida.
A Vietnam veteran, he'd be the first enlisted man to head the Pentagon. "I came to admire his courage and his judgment, his willingness to speak his mind," said President Barack Obama.
"I will always give you my honest and most informed counsel," said Defense Secretary Nominee Chuck Hagel.
Democrats claim he's being falsely attacked.
A Republican nominated by a democrat, facing tough questions today from his own party.