Hagel said the incidents have raised questions about the extent of
the problem in the armed forces and whether America's military
failed to focus enough on questions of integrity during more than 12
years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"We need to find out, is there a deep, wide problem? If there is,
then what's the scope of that problem? How did this occur," he told
a Pentagon news briefing.
"Was it a constant focus of 12 years on two long land wars, taking
our emphasis off some of these other areas? I don't know. We intend to find out."
Hagel promised upcoming actions including the appointment of a
senior officer, reporting to him, who would coordinate actions with
the heads of the branches of the U.S. military on issues of military
ethics, character and leadership.
"I want someone who understands the outside, who understands the
pressures of combat, the pressures of curriculums and testing, and
who has a good, well-rounded background in command," Hagel said,
adding his appointment would be announced soon.
Last month, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged that it has what appears
to be a systemic problem within the ranks of its nuclear missile
launch officers after discovering widespread cheating on a
proficiency exam at a base in Montana.
This week, the U.S. Navy disclosed that instructors at a nuclear
propulsion school in South Carolina had been suspended from their
duties over allegations of cheating on a key qualification exam.
[to top of second column]
But the scandals extend beyond exam cheating. The head of America's
force of inter-continental ballistic missiles, Air Force Major
General Michael Carey, was fired in October for getting drunk and
carousing with women while leading a government delegation to Moscow
for talks on nuclear security.
A major Navy bribery scandal erupted last year, with Navy officials
accused of accepting prostitutes, cash, luxury travel and concert
tickets in exchange for doling out information to a Malaysian
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs
of Staff, said in a written statement on Friday that the matter had
his full attention but also appeared to caution against
over-generalizing the problem.
"The overwhelming majority of our military leaders are tremendous
professionals and citizens who show up to serve, to bring their
best, and often sacrifice greatly," he said.
"We can't afford to let the transgressions of the few undermine the
trust and credibility of our entire profession."
(Additional reporting by David Alexander;
editing by Bernard Orr)
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