Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force, gestures as he testifies during the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, Wednesday, May 8,
Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force, gestures as he testifies during the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, Wednesday, May 8, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Air Force stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to control and, if necessary, launch nuclear missiles after a string of unpublicized failings, including a remarkably dim review of their unit's launch skills. The group's deputy commander said it is suffering "rot" within its ranks. Asked about this at a Senate hearing Wednesday, Donley, the service's top official, explained the problem by stressing that launch control officers are relatively junior in rank, lieutenants and captains, and need to be reminded continually of the importance of "this awesome responsibility" for which they have been trained. ((AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster))