In taking a deep look at trouble inside U.S. nuclear forces, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is searching for the root causes of recent Air Force missteps but also for ways to make the nuclear warrior’s job more attractive at a time when the military has turned its attention away from such weapons.
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.
The number of countries possessing the makings of a nuclear bomb has dropped by almost one-quarter over the past two years, but there remain “dangerous weak links” in nuclear materials security that could be exploited by terrorist groups with potentially catastrophic results, according to a study released Wednesday.