Hagel Ordering Review of Nuclear Force

The decision follows a string of incidents that have raised questions about morale and security.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel listens to a speaker before testifying on Syria to the House Armed Services Committee on September 10, 2013.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Jan. 24, 2014, 2:47 a.m.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel is or­der­ing a re­view of the nuc­le­ar forces, an of­fi­cial said Thursday.

The de­cision comes after a string of in­cid­ents — in­clud­ing il­leg­al drug use and most re­cently a cheat­ing scan­dal — have put the force un­der a neg­at­ive spot­light.

“Sec­ret­ary Hagel be­lieves it is time for the De­part­ment of De­fense as a whole to place re­newed em­phas­is on ex­amin­ing the health of the nuc­le­ar force, in par­tic­u­lar those is­sues that af­fect the mor­ale, pro­fes­sion­al­ism, per­form­ance, and lead­er­ship of the people who make up that force,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the press sec­ret­ary for the Pentagon.

To start the re­view pro­cess, the sec­ret­ary and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair­man Mar­tin De­mp­sey will meet with “key stake­hold­ers in the nuc­le­ar en­ter­prise” dur­ing the next two weeks to dis­cuss the chal­lenges, Kirby said.

Fol­low­ing that meet­ing, De­fense De­part­ment lead­ers will study the lead­er­ship and man­age­ment prin­ciples in the nuc­le­ar force and will make sure a suc­cess­ful de­terrence strategy is in place to pre­vent the types of per­son­nel is­sues that have plagued the nuc­le­ar force in re­cent months.

Pentagon lead­ers will also look for any prob­lem areas in the de­vel­op­ment of the nuc­le­ar force and identi­fy ways to fix prob­lems, Kirby said. A plan for how to ad­dress any con­cerns will be giv­en to Hagel with­in 60 days. And an in­de­pend­ent group will also re­view the nuc­le­ar forces more broadly, al­though they will fo­cus on per­son­nel. The in­de­pend­ent re­view will be fin­ished with­in 90 days.

Kirby tied the sec­ret­ary’s de­cision back to a ” lar­ger con­cern that … we have mor­ale is­sues, we have per­form­ance is­sues in­side a force in­side the mil­it­ary that is just so vi­tal to na­tion­al se­cur­ity,” but he said of­fi­cials re­main con­fid­ent in the se­cur­ity of the coun­try’s nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al.

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