(WASHINGTON) — Concerned about missteps within the nuclear force, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is calling to Washington the top senior military officials who oversee the military’s nuclear mission. Taking place sometime in the next weeks, the meeting will address “any personnel challenges in the nuclear force” to see if there are systemic problems that need to be resolved.
He’s ordered senior military leaders to review the culture of the nuclear force, particularly the ICBM force, to see what issues are affecting its performance. Hagel is also ordering an independent review “of the strategic deterrence enterprise as it relates to persistent personnel challenges.”
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters Thursday afternoon that there was no “tipping point” in the recent missteps that triggered his reviews. Instead Kirby said the health of the nuclear force has been “weighing on his mind” over the last year.
Kirby noted that Hagel has confidence in the safety and security of the nuclear arsenal, but that he’s been concerned by the personnel and morale matters that have become public. Kirby said the alleged drug use and cheating among Air Force missileers is more than enough to raise concerns about the force.
“We’ve got some issues here. And there are very — at the very minimum, there’s some individuals that — inside the ICBM force that don’t or aren’t willing to live up to those standards. What the secretary wants to know is, what else don’t I know about what I don’t know? So he wants this review panel to look at not just the ICBM forces — this is why he’s bringing in an independent review, to look not just at the ICBM force but the whole nuclear force.”
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