Hagel orders reviews of U.S. nuclear personnel

Jan. 24, 2014 at 1:23 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, following embarrassing revelations, ordered two reviews Thursday of the personnel handling nuclear weapons.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters there are clearly "issues" in the country's nuclear force, the Washington Post reported. Those include revelations officers had cheated on nuclear proficiency tests, a two-star Air Force general went on a drunken spree in Moscow and the deputy chief of Strategic Command had gambled with counterfeit chips.

Hagel ordered one review by top nuclear commanders. He said they should develop an "action plan" after spending 60 days determining "the health of the culture" among military personnel responsible for nuclear weapons.

The second review is to be carried out independently by former defense officials.

Kirby said the Pentagon is "confident in the security of the nuclear arsenal of this country." At the same time, he acknowledged Hagel is concerned.

"To the degree there are systemic problems in the training and professional standards of the nuclear career field, the secretary wants them solved," Kirby said. "And to the degree leaders have failed in their duties, he wants them held to account."

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