Defense Secretary Hagel talks nuclear deterrence, modernization

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday it has been one of his highest priorities to ensure the U.S. maintains a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

Hagel made the remarks before Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy service members at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. He said his commitment to maintaining the nuclear deterrent includes commitments to modernizing the nuclear enterprise infrastructure and maintaining a motivated, skilled and highly capable force.

Hagel brought greetings from President Obama and everyone at the DoD.

"We thank you for what you're doing [and] what you have been doing here," Hagel said. "I know occasionally you might wonder if anybody is paying attention or cares. We are paying attention. We know what you do. We appreciate what you do. We (also) understand (your families') sacrifices and we don't take those sacrifices for granted."

In January, Hagel called for an independent review of the strategic deterrence enterprise as it relates to DoD personnel. He said the reviews have come back and he has been briefed on the results.

Hagel said he is working with DoD leaders to determine which recommendations the department will adopt to improve the health of the nuclear workforce, strengthen the nuclear enterprise and ensure individuals involved in the enterprise have what they need to do their jobs.

"We let our focus on the nuclear deterrence aspect of our national security drift a little," Hagel said. "Because of that, priority was put on (land) wars in funding, leadership (and) attention. (Now we must) prioritize the importance of the nuclear enterprise and what you represent and the importance of what you do every day to deter aggression in the world and protect our country and protect our interests around the world."