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US Defense Secretary Hagel Vows Reform of Nuclear Force


FILE - Launch key mechanism at the deactivated Delta Nine Launch Facility near Wall, South Dakota.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says U.S. nuclear arsenal personnel are suffering from low morale, mismanagement and staffing shortages that could undermine the group's safety, security and effectiveness. He has promised nearly $10 billion in new funding.

In announcing Pentagon reviews of the nuclear mission, Hagel told reporters on Friday there has been a consistent lack of investment and support for the U.S. nuclear force.

He said the Pentagon would increase the budget for the nuclear mission by about 10 percent to reverse problems such as leadership lapses, security flaws and sagging morale.

"The reviews found evidence of systematic problems if not addressed could undermine the safety, security and effectiveness of elements of the force in the future," said Hagel. "These problems include manning, infrastructure and skill deficiencies, a culture of micro-management, over-inspection, inadequate communication, follow-up and accountability by senior department and nuclear enterprise leadership."

Hagel called for the reviews following a series of troubling incidents involving nuclear personnel. One of them was a scandal in which airmen were caught cheating on a proficiency test for people who launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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