Hagel Addresses Shortcomings in U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Mission

Nuclear Symbol“As long as we have nuclear weapons, we will and we must ensure that they are safe, secure and effective.” -Defense Secretary Hagel

As a result of the July 2014 “Independent Review of the Department of Defense Nuclear Enterprise” report, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced this week that a 10 percent increase in Department of Defense (DOD) funding for nuclear enterprise will take place every year for the next five years, in an effort to address the systematic problems identified in the Review.

The Review “examined the nuclear deterrent mission in the Departments of the Navy and Air Force and sought to identify leadership, organization, investment, morale, policy, procedural, and/or other shortcomings that are adversely impacting the mission.” The reality that encountered investigators was one of systematic disconnects between “what the DOD and service leadership expected and what the leadership did to empower the forces to meet those expectations; what leadership says and presumably believes and what the Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who must execute the mission actually experience” and more. 

About 100 recommendations came from the review. Some of the issues that will be addressed by Hagel’s proposed 10% increase yearly for the next five years include: 

  • Ageing infrastructure at missile bases and lack of tools
  • Ageing civilian workforce & lack of promotion opportunities
  • Manning and skill deficiencies
  • An “unduly burdensome, overly technical and excessively risk-averse” implementation of the personnel reliability program
  • Excessive inspections leading to a demand for perfection and a “lack of a meaningful self-assessment program”

Long-term changes will also take place within DOD. Updating and standardization of inspection procedures, as well as increases in manpower and the nuclear enterprise skill base will occur. According to Jim Garamone in an article in DoD News, “The department wants to eliminate micromanagement, redundancies and administrative burdens that overtax the force and ultimately harm the mission.” 


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