Nuclear force is rebounding from scandals, says Pentagon deputy

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Wednesday said he sees improvement among the U.S. nuclear forces after a damaging series of scandals involving nuclear officers.

"Nothing is better than being able to look the troops in the eye, and the officers, and hear what they're saying," Work told Reuters following a tour of Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. "It was really good to put eyes on target. We still have work to do."

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Work said the missile launch officers and maintenance workers he met at the installation are seeing results of recent DOD efforts to revamp the nuclear force, including deep cleaning underground missile launch capsules and purchases of new equipment.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces Five takeaways from Pentagon chief's first major trip Esper given horse in Mongolia as US looks for new inroads against China MORE in November ordered work to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the nuclear force after a series of scandals, most notably that 34 nuclear officers who were caught cheating on nuclear proficiency tests, which was discovered during an investigation into drug use allegations.

Work said morale among the troops he met was good and that they are happy with the moves being made to overhaul the force.

The Pentagon’s fiscal 2016 budget calls for $8 billion in new spending on the nuclear force over the next five years, including about $1 billion next year.