APNewsBreak: More implicated in nuke cheat probe

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The cheating scandal is the latest in a series of Air Force nuclear stumbles. The AP revealed a number of them, including deliberate violations of safety rules, failures of inspections, breakdowns in training, and evidence that the men and women who operate the missiles from underground command posts are suffering burnout.

In October, the two-star general then in charge of the ICBM force, Michael Carey, was fired for engaging in embarrassing behavior, including drunkenness, while leading a U.S. delegation to a nuclear exercise in Russia. He was replaced by Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week ordered a review of the problems inside the ICBM force and said he would assemble a group of outside experts to look for solutions. Hagel is scheduled to meet with senior officers involved in the nuclear force on Wednesday at the Pentagon to discuss how to attack the problems.

Hagel has raised the possibility of reconsidering the way ICBM launch crews are tested.

“We have a pretty significant and tight and unforgiving test curriculum and regimen that I’m not sure doesn’t need to be explored and examined in some detail,” Hagel told a news conference on Friday.

“Obviously, our standards can never be compromised,” he said. “This is a business of error-free management. And when you connect that with the high standard expectation at every test you take, if you don’t make a 100 percent on every test, then you’re eventually in a position where you probably minimize your chance for advancement.”

Hagel added: “We’re going to take a look at how we train and continue to train and test all these young people who have this great responsibility.”

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Follow Robert Burns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/robertburnsAP

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