The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

January 24, 2014

Hagel vows to get to bottom of nuke missile ills

WASHINGTON (AP) — It began with his brief mention last fall of "troubling lapses" in the nuclear force. Weeks later Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel turned up the heat a notch by paying a rare visit to a nuclear missile base. And on Thursday he dropped his bombshell: a demand for quick answers to what ails this most sensitive of military missions.

"Personnel failures within this force threaten to jeopardize the trust the American people have placed in us to keep our nuclear weapons safe and secure," Hagel wrote in unusually pointed language to a dozen top officials.

Hagel ordered immediate actions to define the depth of trouble inside the nuclear force, particularly the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile force, which has been rocked by disclosures about security lapses, poor discipline, weak morale and other problems that raise questions about nuclear security.

It amounted to the most significant expression of high-level Pentagon concern about the nuclear force since 2008, when then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the top uniformed and civilian officials in the Air Force following a series of mistakes that included a cross-country flight by a B-52 bomber that mistakenly had been armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

The U.S. is reducing the size, and seeking to limit the role, of its nuclear arsenal, but it remains a central feature of national security policy. The weapons are an enormous responsibility for the military, not just to operate them properly but also to ensure they are safe and secure. Critics question whether it is worth the cost.

Hagel had said recently he was considering what may lie behind problems in the nuclear Air Force — many revealed by The Associated Press — but his chief spokesman said Thursday that the defense secretary concluded urgent remedies were needed.

"To the degree there are systemic problems in the training and professional standards of the nuclear career field, the secretary wants them solved," the spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said. "To the degree there are gaps in our understanding or implementation of those standards, he wants them closed. And to the degree leaders have failed in their duties, he wants them held to account."

Text Only
AP National
  • Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn't make good on i

    April 18, 2014

  • Late sign-ups improve outlook for Obama health law WASHINGTON (AP) — A surge of eleventh-hour enrollments has improved the outlook for President Barack Obama's health care law, with more people signing up overall and a much-needed spark of interest among young adults. Nonetheless, Obama's announcemen

    April 18, 2014

  • Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target's computer systems last December. But the agency says it could take years to identify the criminals who sto

    April 18, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. UKRAINIAN MILITIA DENIES CALLS TO FREE BUILDINGS Pro-Russian insurgents in the east who have been occupying government buildings say they will

    April 18, 2014

  • White House updating online privacy policy WASHINGTON (AP) — A new Obama administration privacy policy released Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites, and it clarifies that online comments, whether

    April 18, 2014

  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic worries about this November's elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Ba

    April 16, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies WASHINGTON (AP) — Negative campaigning and mudslinging may be a fact of life in American politics, but can false accusations made in the heat of an election be punished as a crime? That debate makes its way to the Supreme Court next week as the justi

    April 16, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT WASHINGTON (AP) — Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years. Sample questions for the new version of the college-entrance test were released on Wednesday by the College Boa

    April 16, 2014

  • End of NYPD Muslim surveillance program applauded NEW YORK (AP) — Muslim groups and civil liberties advocates applauded the decision by New York Police Department officials to disband a controversial unit that tracked the daily lives of Muslims as part of efforts to detect terrorism threats, but the

    April 16, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. NEARLY 300 PEOPLE ARE MISSING AFTER KOREAN BOAT SINKS The accident involving a ferry that was headed to a tourist island killed three passenger

    April 16, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National