Beginning with his discovery of an internal Air Force admission of "rot" infesting its nuclear missile forces, AP National Security Writer Robert Burns probed to extraordinary depths within this highly secretive, rarely investigated organization for eight months to reveal a series of missteps by men and women with their finger on the trigger of the world's most deadly weapons. Using sources inside and outside the Air Force, in Washington and beyond, Burns documented deliberate safety and security violations, personal misbehavior, training failures, leadership lapses and chilling evidence of malaise among those entrusted with nuclear weapons. Burns peeled away the veneer of Air Force assurances that nothing was amiss, and brought to the attention of the American public a fuller picture of a nuclear missile force facing an uncertain future. His reporting prompted the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, to lament these "troubling lapses" and make a personal visit tot he force to insist they live up to their standards and demonstrate that they can be trusted with nuclear responsibilities.
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