At first blush, it might seem that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s luck couldn’t have been worse. As he met with members of the Air Force’s nuclear missile force, word came that two Minuteman 3 launch control officers in Montana were pulled from duty due to a narcotics investigation.
A recent RAND Corp. report obtained by the Associated Press found that the isolated nature of the missile forces’ work, talks about ICBMs being expendable in a budget-cutting era and some discipline breakdowns have weighed on morale.
So Hagel is right to focus attention on these troops while insisting on professionalism in their unsung ranks. Given the rapidly changing state of an uncertain world, America’s nuclear forces remain a critical element for global nuclear deterrence. Part of that requires the operation of U.S. nuclear forces at the highest standard.
As Hagel told his troops: “You are doing something of great importance to the world.”