It began last fall when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel mentioned what he called "troubling lapses" in the nation's nuclear force.
Weeks later Hagel turned up the heat a notch by paying a rare visit to a nuclear missile base. And on Thursday he dropped his bombshell: a demand for quick answers to what ails this most sensitive of military missions.
Hagel said, quoting: "Personnel failures within this force threaten to jeopardize the trust the American people have placed in us to keep our nuclear weapons safe and secure."
He's ordering immediate actions to define the depth of trouble inside the nuclear force, particularly the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile force. It's been rocked by disclosures about security lapses, poor discipline, weak morale and other problems that raise security questions.