9 Missile Commanders Fired, Others Disciplined In Air Force Scandal

A mockup of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile used for training by missile maintenance crews at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Robert Burns/AP

A mockup of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile used for training by missile maintenance crews at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Robert Burns/AP

The Air Force has announced the firing of nine midlevel nuclear missile commanders and the disciplining of dozens of junior officers involved in cheating on ICBM proficiency exams.

The measures come after an extensive investigation into a string of security lapses and failed safety inspections at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., where the cheating occurred.

The Associated Press reports:

“In a bid to correct root causes of the missile corps’ failings — including low morale and weak management — the Air Force also announced a series of new or expanded programs to improve leadership development, to modernize the three ICBM bases and to reinforce ‘core values’ including integrity.

“Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, the service’s top civilian official, had promised to hold officers at Malmstrom accountable once the cheating investigation was completed and the scope of the scandal was clear. None of the nine fired commanders was directly involved in the cheating, but each was determined to have failed in his or her leadership responsibilities.”

Col. Robert Stanley, the commander of Malmstrom’s 341st Missile Wing and the senior-most officer implicated, has been allowed to resign. He was responsible for 50 Minuteman 3 ICBMs. The AP says the commander and deputy commander of the 341st Operations Group were also dismissed.

AP says:

“No generals are being punished. Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, who was fired last October as commander of the 20th Air Force, which is responsible for all three 150-missile wings of the ICBM force, is still on duty as a staff officer at Air Force Space Command but has requested retirement; his request is being reviewed.

“A total of 100 missile launch crew members at Malmstrom were identified as potentially involved in the cheating, but nine were cleared by investigators. Another nine of the 100 are being handled separately by the Air Force Office of Special Investigation; eight of those nine involve possible criminal charges stemming from the alleged mishandling of classified information.”

As NPR’s Tom Bowman says, the Air Force “found a culture of cheating throughout the nuclear missile community” related to promotions.

“It revolves around proficiency exams,” Bowman tells Morning Edition.

These exams, he says, consist of questions about administrative procedures and other protocols, but “Air Force officials insist there was never an issue of safety.”

The cheating, Bowman says, “centers around promotion and the belief that you needed a perfect score to move on in your career.”

“These aren’t glamorous jobs like being an Air Force fighter pilot,” he says. “So, many try to become instructors, and to do that you have to achieve absolute perfection on these tests.”

We have been following this story for many months. Here are some of the links in chronological order:

Air Force Strips 17 Officers Of Nuclear Missile Launch Authority (May 8, 2013)

Air Force Fires Top U.S. Missile Commander (Oct. 11, 2013)

Nuclear Missile Officers Reportedly Implicated In Drug Probe (Jan. 9, 2014)

34 Officers At Nuclear Site May Have Cheated On Exams (Jan. 16, 2014)

Air Force Cheating Scandal Widens; 92 Nuclear Officers Linked (Jan. 30, 2014)

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.image
Read original article – Published March 27, 2014 3:25 PM
9 Missile Commanders Fired, Others Disciplined In Air Force Scandal

Recent headlines

  • dollar bill money macro

    Per diems driving special session costs

    Lawmakers who represent areas outside Juneau receive $295 for each day of the special session. Juneau lawmakers receive $221.25 per day.
  • Caroline Hoover proudly pins an Alaska Territorial Guard medal on the front of her father's parka during an official discharge ceremony held Oct. 17 in Kipnuk, Alaska. David Martin is one of three surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard's Kipnuk unit. A total of 59 residents of Kipnuk, who volunteered to defend Alaska in the event of a Japanese invasion during World War II, were recognized during the ceremony. Kipnuk residents who served with the Alaska Territorial Guard from 1942-1947 were members of a U.S. Army component organized in response to attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Jerry Walton, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs cultural resource manager and native liaison/public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

    16 Alaska Territorial Guard vets to be honored in Anchorage

    Sixteen veterans of the Alaska Territorial Guard will be honored at a discharge ceremony today. Four of them are from Western Alaska.
  • Don Andrew Roguska looks out from an upstairs window of an historic Juneau house he bought in 2016 to restore. Zoning regulations have prevented him from rebuilding in the same style. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

    Juneau mulls relaxing zoning rules for historic houses

    The historic houses in Juneau and Douglas were predominately built by miners and fishermen long before today's zoning was put into place. That's prevented homeowners from restoring or rebuilding homes in these neighborhoods without running into conflict with the city's zoning laws -- a temporary fix may be on the way.
  • Young joins Afghanistan war skeptics in Congress

    Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young wants to know why Americans are still fighting in Afghanistan. He has co-sponsored a bill that would end funding for the war in a year, unless the president and Congress affirm the need for it.
X