First, Hagel was lazy. This may seem harsh, but the Secretary did not adequately prepare for meetings. Not even close. The 4-5 page briefing papers that Gates devoured, or the two-page memos that satisfied Panetta’s intellectual cravings, were replaced by Hagel’s preferred briefing material: an index card with 25 words on it. Policy papers were still drafted, but Hagel’s inner circle repeatedly made it clear they would never be read. As one official said during a moment of frustration, “How can we prepare the secretary to speak on this complex issue with only a sentence fragment?” Hagel’s aversion to words was most noticeable during meetings with foreign counterparts and heads of state where his lack of preparation all but guaranteed that he would have little to contribute aside from pleasantries and small talk. After such engagements, foreign staffers often inquired why Hagel was angry or aloof — or even worse — had offended their president or minister by wasting their time. The standard response, “The secretary is not feeling well,” seldom proved adequate. Hagel didn’t just waste everyone’s time, he routinely missed opportunities to advance U.S. policy by learning how our partners viewed complex issues. He also failed to develop important personal relationships that might prove critical when serious problems emerged.