WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is demanding details of turmoil at a North Dakota military base after revelations that an unprecedented 17 officers were removed from their duty of standing 24-hour watch over the Air Force's most powerful nuclear missiles.
Hagel reacted after The Associated Press on Wednesday reported the unprecedented sidelining of the officers at Minot Air Force Base, where one of their superiors complained of "such rot" in their unit that even the willful violation of missile safety rules -- including a possible compromise of launch codes -- was tolerated.
The AP quoted from an internal email written by the deputy commander of the unit responsible for all Minuteman 3 missile launch crews at Minot.
He lamented the remarkably poor reviews they received in a March inspection.
By ROBERT BURNS
AP National Security Writer
The Associated Press