Hagel, a former Republican senator, is expected to face a strong challenge from the GOP but will likely be confirmed because the allegations he is too dovish and anti-Israel will be disproved, Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"This is a gentleman who knows all of these issues in depth," said Powell, a former Army general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "He is a fellow who speaks his mind. He sometimes gets in trouble with those who think he should not speak his mind, but he says what he believes and he sticks with it."
Powell predicted Hagel would be a reliable ally of Israel while overseeing the Pentagon, particularly when it comes to direct threats to Israeli security. At the same time, Powell said: "I am very supportive of the State of Israel. So is Sen. Hagel and you will see this in the confirmation hearings. But it doesn't mean you have to agree with every single position that the Israeli government takes."
Powell said the public-relations barrage against Hagel was partly the product of an attitude by Republican leaders that did not jibe with U.S. public opinion. He told NBC he believed the election of President Obama twice was evidence Americans were not anxious to see their country picking fights with other nations such as Iran.
"And (voters) are not particularly interested in saying, you know, sanctions are just a road bump on the way to bombing." Powell said. "We should be very, very careful when we sort of toss around theories of use of military for situations that might be resolved in other ways."