Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Hagel Forms Outside Panel to Probe Nuclear-Force Ethics Failures
The Pentagon has ordered an independent review of the growing number of ethics scandals within the U.S. military's nuclear enterprise.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "is concerned about the health of the force and the health of the strong culture of accountability and responsibility that Americans have come to expect from their military," Defense Department spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a Wednesday press conference.
The decision by Hagel to establish an independent review team follows this week's revelation that a number of senior sailors at a South Carolina school for naval nuclear propulsion are being investigated for possible cheating on their instructor certification tests. Meanwhile, in the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile mission, over 90 nuclear launch officers have been removed from alert duty after being implicated in a probe into test-taking misconduct on proficiency exams. The cheating was uncovered in the course of a separate investigation into drug possession by some officers with the Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees all ICBMs and heavy bombers.
On top of that, there were two high-profile firings last year of general officers with top-level nuclear weapon responsibilities for unprofessional conduct including gambling with counterfeit chips and drunken misconduct during an official visit to Russia.
Hagel earlier this month ordered an internal assessment into personnel problems in the Air Force and Navy's nuclear missions but apparently decided that did not go far enough. The defense chief has asked retired Navy Adm. John Harvey and former Air Force Gen. Larry Welch to head up the independent task force, according to a Pentagon press story.
The results of the Pentagon's internal review and its recommendations are due within two months but the defense secretary "has made it clear he would certainly welcome the work sooner than that," according to Kirby.
"What worries the secretary, [is] that maybe he doesn't have the full grasp of the depth of the issue," the spokesman said. "And he wants to better understand it and to the degree that there are systemic issues, he wants to attack them."
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