File - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Dec. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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With public trust and safety at stake, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered immediate actions Thursday to define the depth of trouble inside the U.S. nuclear force, which has been rocked by disclosures about security lapses, poor discipline, weak morale and other problems that raise questions about nuclear security.It amounted to the most significant expression of high-level Pentagon concern about the nuclear force since 2008, when then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the top uniformed and civilian officials in the Air Force following a series of mistakes that included an unauthorized flight of nuclear-armed cruise missiles across the country.Hagel had recently said he had been considering what may lay behind problems in the nuclear Air Force – many revealed by the Associated Press – but his chief spokesman said Thursday that the defense secretary concluded urgent remedies were needed.Hagel said he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, will host the nuclear summit.Hagel recently reiterated his support for the nuclear force and said he is not questioning its safety.
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