2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Hagel heads to Wyoming amid nuke questions

Published: January 8, 2014, 1:03 pm, by Tom Roeder

Chuck Hagel, Dick Durbin, Patrick LeahyDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel is set to stop at Wyoming’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base Thursday to meet with missile crews and hold a town hall discussion.

The trip comes as the pentagon mulls cutting its force of silo-based 450 ICBMs, including the 150 Minuteman II missiles at Warren. the Cheyenne base’s missile field extends hundreds of miles from the base, and reportedly includes silos in northern Colorado.

ICBMs have been on the chopping block for years and a 2013 defense bill from congress called for a study of possible cuts. Pressure to scrutinize the nuclear mission has increased with a series of Air Force missteps dating back to 2008.

The most recent flap came with the firing of 20th Air Force Commander Michael Carey, who oversaw the Wyoming ICBMs. A Pentagon report accused Carey of excessive drinking and boorish behavior during a 2013 trip to Russia.

Carey was removed from the command and quietly shipped to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, where an official biography list him as a  “special assistant to the commander” at Air Force Space Command.