US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel praised a decision by President Barack Obama to reform the signal intelligence programs. "I fully support the reforms to signals intelligence programs that President Obama outlined today - not only as Secretary of Defense, but as former co-chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board and a former member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," Hagel said in a statement. "These programs must always balance the need to defend our national security with the responsibility to preserve America's individual liberties, and the President's decisions and recommendations will do that. Obama has asked the congress on Friday's speech to establish a panel of advocates from outside government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "They will help restore the confidence of the American people and our allies and partners," Hagel said, adding they will preserve important capabilities that keep us safe. Obama has taken the decision following criticism over spying phone calls by key world leaders. "They will help the men and women of America's military continue to accomplish their missions all over the world," Hagel insisted.