Skip to comments.Air Force: 92 implicated in nuke cheating scandal
Posted on 01/30/2014 7:02:55 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
Top Air Force officials described a persistent culture of "undue stress and fear" that led 92 of 550 members of the military's nuclear missile corps to be involved in cheating on a monthly proficiency test on which they felt pressured to get perfect scores to get promoted.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Thursday that at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, about half of the 183 missile launch officers have been implicated in the cheating.
The cheating scandal is the latest in an array of troubles that now have the attention of senior defense officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The Associated Press began reporting on the issue nine months ago, revealing serious security lapses, low morale, burnout and other issues in the nuclear force. The Air Force recently announced the cheating scandal that grew out of a drug investigation.
But James and Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, who heads Global Strike Command, insisted that the failures haven't affected the safety of the military's nuclear mission.
James and Wilson suggested that so far it appears the cheating was confined to the Montana base.
"These tests have taken on, in their eyes, such high importance, that they feel that anything less than 100 could well put their entire career in jeopardy" even though they only need a score of 90 to pass, said James, who only recently took over as secretary. "They have come to believe that these tests are make-it-or-break-it."
The launch officers didn't cheat to pass the test, "they cheated because they felt driven to get 100 percent," she said.
Of the 92 officers implicated so far, as many as 40 were involved directly in the cheating, Wilson said. Others may have known about it but did not report it. Separately, James said that an investigation into drug possession by officers at several Air Force bases now involves 13 airmen, two more than initially announced.
All 92 officers have been decertified and suspended while the scandal is being investigated, meaning other launch officers and staff to fill in, performing 10 24-hour shifts per month, instead of the usual eight, Wilson said. Staff members from the 20th Air Force, which oversees all of the nuclear missile force, are also being tapped to do the shifts.
The Air Force has 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, on alert at all times. Each day, a total of 90 officers work in pairs inside 45 underground launch control centers, with each center monitoring and controlling a group of 10 ICBMs. They work 24-hour shifts in the missile field and then return to their base.
The latest scandal set off a top-level search for solutions, including a recent round of visits by James to all the nuclear bases, where she met privately with small groups of airmen to get their insights into the problems.
James and Wilson said that the problems underscore the need for new testing and training procedures, provide more incentives and rewards for those who perform well, and set up a system that looks at more than test scores when evaluating officers.
Officials have yet to discipline any commanders or officers beyond those who actually took the tests. But the ongoing reviews look at leadership and accountability within the force. That includes a culture of poor integrity that may encourage officers to share test answers as a way of looking out for each other.
"I do believe there are climate issues, and part of that will be assessing commanders -- how did this happen," said James.
Wilson said all missile launch officers have now been retested, and the average score was about 95 percent. He said 22 failed. Additional nuclear testing and crew evaluations are also being done.
Malmstrom Air Force Base is responsible for 150 Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles, or one-third of the entire Minuteman 3 force. The other two bases are F.E. Warren in Wyoming and Minot in North Dakota.
The tests in question are designed to ensure proficiency by launch officers in handling "emergency war orders," which involve the classified processing of orders received through their chain of command to launch a missile. These written tests are in addition to two other types of monthly testing on the missile system and on launch codes.
According to James and Wilson, the monthly tests all cover the same course material, but until now each base developed its own individual questions. As a result of the scandal, Wilson said the tests will now be developed by 20th Air Force.
This and a dozen or so being investigated for drug use.
Huge impact to the nuke force.
Active Duty ping.
“Never let a crisis go to waste”
GayMuzzie will USE this as premise to unilaterally discard America’s nuclear capability shortly before leaving office.
HE IS LAYING THE GROUNDWORK, HERE.
Just wait —maybe a year, year and a half before leaving office.
His goal is to MAKE THE WORLD FAIR by taking America down a peg or ten.
The purge is almost complete.
You have to take a test once a month.
Anything less than 90 is a fail. And then you get booted.
100 is basically a pass.
You work 24 hours/day with the same small team of fellow officers.
What did the Air Force THINK would happen???
"This is a troubled organization that is costly to maintain. I have said numerous times before that I will not rest until using saving maximal WASTED funds to invigorate infrastructure and the middle class, and this measure will help global stability..."
And then he'll use his PEN to do away with US nukes.
JUST LIKE THAT.
He's going to USE this.
the good news is that now pakistasn is outsourcing jobs to us
They can work for Atlanta schools now giving tests to kids.
Every last one of the Officers that cheated should be canned - dismissed from the Air Force. They swore an oath and broke it.
I’m not totally surprised by this. When I was at AF Squadron Officer School in the late 80s, I was surprised when a number of officers started to openly cheat during a test. When asked about it later, they simply said: “cooperate and graduate”. Never forgot that.
I know there are a couple on this forum that know about these tests. So my question is, how much has the testing material been tampered with since the dear leader and his cronies have taken office? I am not saying 92 didn’t skirt the rules, but we seem to auto-magically assume these tests aren’t becoming ludicrous. Furthermore, just how much do the criteria that define being proficient change from month to month. I can’t see the U.S. changing policy that quickly. Again, I hope the couple posters I saw here previously show up again to explain..
Many more will be “implicated” until the kenyan/Soros’s people are in firm control of America’s nuclear armaments.
Give the missile force to the Army. Pilots control the Air Force (rightly so), so being in the missile force probably makes you a second class citizen in the Air Force. It would just be another branch in the Army.
Exactly, gaijin. This is nothing more than a tempest in a teapot. This is WAY overblown and detrimental to morale.
Welcome to the Reduction In Force (RIF). Everything gets crazy.
Where these guys using gouges?
...”cooperate and graduate”. Yes, plus I can’t count how many times I heard during my Army stint(s), “you have to go along to get along”. True, up to a point. Looks like that “point” was reached and then some.
I was on Missile Combat Crew for a total of ten years. Six in Titan II and four in Minuteman. These EWO tests are not political in nature, they are technical tests to show you can proficiently process, decode, and execute the encrypted messages that are received down in the capsules. These messages could be anything up to and including launch messages.
There always were scenarios given within these tests that could trip a person up but they were not political in nature but technical and procedural.
This was just plain old cheating and extremely terrible cheating at that. I read a post earlier that these people should be kicked out of the Air Force but, depending on the type of information passed via unsecured cell phones, many of them should end up in Leavenworth.
I know it sounds as if I am dancing around and not giving solid answers but this is EWO and I cannot divulge what actually goes on or the contents. It would be just as bad as those men.
This is one of the things I like about F/R; responses from people in the know.
The cheating on these tests coupled with possible drug use sounds like there is a serious problem.
Thanks for the comment.
Okay, dumb civilian, yet media and national security hack here asking the stupid question:
Why broadcast this information? Wouldn’t handling this quietly do more for the integrity of the program?
Kinda like reporting that 90% of air force fighter pilots can’t win an aerial dogfight at night.
Yes, let’s get rid of 90% of our officers and their men and we’ll have Obama’s domestic security force in their place.
And the freaks in Congress are letting this all happen.
THIS is all a part of the culture of corruption inspired by the military’s current Commander-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, and nobody else!