(CNN) – When President Barack Obama nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense last week, criticism came in swiftly from several Republicans. But there's one member of the GOP who couldn't be more supportive of Hagel, and that's former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
For starters, Powell said Sunday that Hagel would be an excellent fit for defense secretary because of his military service in Vietnam, where Hagel was wounded twice.
"I will tell you who thinks that makes him a good candidate for secretary of defense: the men and women in the armed forces of the United States, who know that this is a guy who will be very careful about putting their lives at risk, because he put his life at risk," Powell said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
But Powell said it takes more than just combat experience to be a good defense secretary. He said Hagel has the right pragmatic worldview to fit the role.
"He knows what war is, and he will fight a war if it's necessary, but he's a guy who will do it with great deliberation and care," Powell said.
It's that deliberation which has received some of the harshest criticism, as Hagel is on record as opposing unilateral sanctions against Iran and also President George W. Bush's Iraq troop surge in 2007.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who served with Hagel in the Senate from 1997 to 2009, has been one of his most ardent critics.
McCain said Hagel told him at the time the surge would be "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."
"I've never heard him contradict that statement or change his position about the surge," McCain said Tuesday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Hagel has also taken flak for a perceived lack of support for the state of Israel, partly because he once referred to a "Jewish lobby," which some interpreted as a derisive reference to pro-Israeli groups. He has also criticized Israel's posture toward Iran.
But Powell said the fact that Hagel may have some disagreements with the Israeli government doesn't mean he isn't a strong supporter of the state.
"I am very supportive of the state of Israel, so is Sen. Hagel, and you'll see that in the confirmation hearings. But it doesn't mean you have to agree with every single position the Israeli government takes," Powell said.
So does Powell think Hagel will ultimately be confirmed by the Senate, after confirmation hearings later this month?
"I think he gets confirmed. Ultimately, he's superbly qualified based on his overall record, based on his service to the country, based on how he feels about veterans and troops and their families. I think he will do a great job as secretary of defense," Powell said.
- CNN's Kevin Bohn and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.