Hagel Questions Air Force’s Ability to Oversee Nukes

Hagel Questions Air Force’s Ability to Oversee Nukes

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed concern Friday that feelings of neglect and boredom may have led to the cheating and drug scandals among the young officers in charge of the nation’s nuclear missiles.

“We know that something’s wrong,” Hagel said, but it was difficult to pin down a cause. “There’s no single issue here,” he said.

Hagel wondered: “Do they get bored? Are we doing enough” to convince the Air Force’s young officers who sit in the Minuteman III silos that their jobs are valued?


Hagel speculated on the problems in the Air Force at a Pentagon briefing with French Defense Minister Jean Yves Le Drian that was mostly devoted to mutual pledges of increased U.S. and French cooperation in combating terrorism in northern Africa.

“Recent allegations regarding our ICBM force raise legitimate questions about this Department’s stewardship of one of our most sensitive and important missions,” Hagel said.

The U.S. defense secretary said he had just come from an hour-long phone call with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who was visiting missile and bomber bases as part of the overall review on the status of the nation’s nuclear deterrent ordered up Thursday by Hagel.

Earlier at the Pentagon, Hagel presided at the swearing-in ceremony for James. In his remarks, Hagel praised the Air Force’ mission but said that “at the same time, I am deeply concerned… about the overall health, professionalism, and discipline of our strategic forces.”

Hagel ordered the status review following charges that 34 lieutenants and captains in the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana had cheated on a monthly proficiency test. Separately, a total of 11 Air Force officers at several bases are suspects in a drug possession investigation.

Hagel said the cheating and the drug allegations did not compromise the safety and security of the nuclear deterrent “but that doesn’t dismiss the issues in front of us” involving officers who may have violated their oaths.

The nation has been involved in two major land wars for nearly the past 13 years, Hagel said, and “I think there’s been a sense of, well — just take for granted the nuclear component,” Hagel said.

“Over the years I do think we have taken some focus off of the responsibilities of these very dedicated, very bright young officers,” Hagel said.

“Standards must not be eroded,” Hagel said, but he pointed to the stress in taking a proficiency test every month. If scores of 100 percent are not maintained, “that will probably minimize your chances for advancement,” Hagel said.

In addition to the internal review, Hagel has also announced that he will consult with a small group of outside nuclear experts to study the personnel problems in the nuclear force and to come up with remedies. Hagel has yet to name the panel.

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How about bringing back S. A .C. There were not as many issues when it was around. Being a part of it made me proud. There was a lot of pride on my part being assigned to S.A.C. We were the tip of the peacetime spear.

This is the first time that I heard that the Strategic Air Command was no longer with us, Was this another presidential downsizing of our defenses? What is Secretary Nominee Debbie’s rank in what American armed force? What is going on this time in Hagel’s restructuring of the military?

The best thing to do would be to completely outsource the oversight of the nuclear arsenal to defense contractors, after all having outsourced most of it to contractors is going so damn well…

OK. I read up on how SAC was parceled out to a half dozen commands in the 90’s. For 15 years I assumed that SAC was sitting under Cheyanne Mountain when they weren’t. What about the proliferation of IRBM’s and ICBM’s, especially on the Asian continent? Does anyone seriously think the threat of nuclear warheads is deterred because Russia has signed a treaty? Is there a central command for our nuclear arsenal since Debbie James now represents the Air Force? I assume this is still a situation where the president controls the codes, and not drug-crazed ICBM launch personnel? Why is our entire military under “change” and why so much fault?

just fire the whole nuke apparatus and hire Mexican illegals who will be more faithful to King Obama.

How about — Americans should question the ability of Hagel to lead DOD.

O-4’s and up should be mission ready

What a shame our “missilier’s” are unloved. Could it be the vanguard of the millennial generation entering the US military. They get to sleep between the sheets every night, not one night under canvas or in a hole, and don’t have to squeeze dinner out of a packet made 2 or 3 years before. No bug bites, snakes, or mud. When was the last time one qualified for a purple heart? Give me a break: do your job!

My whole “An American Civil War will cause the USA to be nuked to hell by nations that hate us” theory is gaining more ground as we speak apparently.

As in any organization (civilian or military), it’s all about the culture and culture starts at the top and trickles down. The only people the air force generals should be blaming is themselves. The air force need to take a lesson from the Navy on how to develop a culture that takes cares of a portion of the nuc triad. If SSBN sailors can be underwater for six months at time why can’t the air force crews do the same for their 1 or 2 days shifts? What’s do hard about doing easy duty in the silo for a couple of days? Try being on a sub for six months without seeing the sun at all!

Honestly, things will never get better for the AF ICBM force. The problems that are being publicised now have been happening since they were implemented. The AF’s nukes should go to their bombers and the rest should be on subs. If their ICBM wings got shut down it would definitely help with the atrocious suicide statistics.

How I do understand the frustration you express I assure you it is not all Millenials in the services that are to blame. Remember this 12 year war and the downsize bigger than Clinton’s cigar. If they cheated, punish. However, the word allegation pops up every time the the Obama crew are trying to hide something from the rest of us.

Do you know the rate of sexual assault in the navy. If you don’t and don’t know what types of off the cuff punishment happens, then don’t speak.

This is a result of all the talk of nukes, the, attack of Prayer in our nations military– the pentagon does not support our nations military freedom of speech
And if Hagel is so concerned why doesn’t he remove the maps of our nations nuke. That is on the Internet
That has been flagged by the Pentagon
Feel safe Hagel!

Well SAC’s been gone since ’92, so you’re a little behind the times.

Want to feel safe in a censored state? There are plenty on the Department of State travel advisory.

The Soviets have always known where our missiles are: and conversely, we know theirs.

There’s a reason they are going for mobile Topol launchers instead of hardened silos…

I agree. If anyone wants to see what the Chinese have been up to in nuclear missiles, try this link: http://​www​.ausairpower​.net/​A​P​A​-​P​L​A​-​B​a​l​l​i​s​t​i​c​-​M​i​s​s​i​l​e​s​.​h​tml

I corrected that. Sorry but I was homeless at the time and missed it. But I served ARMY infantry during the Cold War in Germany in the late 70’s. Our mission was to stop the main thrust of Soviet/Warsaw Pact armor through the Fulda Gap. At the time mobile nuclear missiles were being stationed by both sides. We believed that was the only way to stop tens of thousands of tanks, etc. it was a lot more dangerous situation then people realize today. SAC was our back-up.

“Secretary Nominee Debbie” is the Secretary of the Air Force. You might have missed that one too but the Service Secretaries do not have ranks, they are civilians. That one has been going on for a while now… like over 200 years.

If the problem is one of dead end careers and motivation why not make this a secondary task, once in a Air Force officers career whether a fighter pilot or intel guy they have to sit on a nuke for a 2–3 year tour. How long is the school to qualify them? 6 months I would guess would be about right. Instead of making it a entire field make it a requirement for command, a check in the box that everyone gets on they way up, this makes it so its something you have to do well to get promoted and everyone suffers through it together so the respect is retained.

Comparing the Navy is different because people respect submarine sailors in general, where Missiliers are typically not well respected and so it no doubt leads to a sense of “Why does this matter” coupled with a very low probability of firing a missile (lets face it short of a all out war we are going to use a Sub launched strike for speed of delivery ) its a recipe for failure.

Do you mean that US Secretaries of the Armed Services don’t require any previous military service? Has it been that way for 200 years? That’s like a president of your local PTA becoming a police chief. Management skills are what are needed for the Air Force, etc. I guess. Yet the world is filling up with missiles, so I hope our civilian leaders can work with the military on this.

I guess that social experiment isn’t going so well. Must be the Navy’s fault, after all they’ve been begging to put women on combat ships for decades now just so they could assault them. Oh wait, no that was liberals who thought it would be a great idea to put women in combat roles. The Navy didn’t want women on their ships because they predicted this kind of thing would happen. Funny how history gets rewritten all the time.

No requirement for prior military service… as far back as I can see. For example, Franklin Delano Roosavelt was once Secretary of the Navy and was never in the military.

Will the last B52 leaving Guam please turn off the Arc-Light?

Missile operations are combined with space operations, with nice possible assignments at Vandenberg, Patrick, and Colorado Springs. Missileers don’t have to be in dead end jobs in silos for their whole careers. I don’t think the problem is the dead end nature of the job so much as neglect, poor discipline, and poor leadership example set by senior Air Force leadership. Since their priority has been F-22 & F-35 at all cost (including integrity), it should not surprise everyone that the rest of the Air Force is falling to pieces.

I believe they recently (within the last year or two) split them back out from the space launch AFSC.

FDR was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, when there was only one.

Time to modernize the GBSD with a new missile in a new super hard silo, what the heck throw in a new variable yield nuke warhead (from 100kt to 1Mt)

One person got it right…HAGEL should be fired being the SECDEF. His personalities are just like Obama’s get him out of there. Missle Silos…You can tell boredom has set in. Yes, dismiss those officers. They have been trained as a military officer…Other officers should be cross trained into the nuc field as well. Make the tour only two years and have other rated as well as non rated serve two year tours as well. Morale will go up. Have that three star Deputy of ACC do a review as hopefully she will do better than Hagel. It is obvious these guys have too much time on their hands. Retired Air Force Commander! get a Masters degree work in the missile field has always been the saying…

It’s very apparent that you have never served J, and since you haven’t served you’re not entitled to an opinion

I wish, but you and I both know it won’t happen. Bush Sr put into a place a moratorium on nuclear development and its only been extended since.

I believe the senior leadership of the Air Force (blue-suiters and civilians) have not properly articulated a coherent nuclear mission that can be understood by all in the chain of command. The mission statement used to be the template for all supporting activities with the weapon system. We seemed to have lost the clarity of why we have nuclear weapons and how they will be managed and employed. Missile officers and personnel who are at the operational level should be treated at a level which is consistent with their duties and responsibility to unleash World War Three on humanity. To me that is serious business and it requires serious leadership. We had that leadership in SAC during the Cold War and we need to get it again. If we cannot, the country is in serious danger.

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