An investigation into drug-use across six Air Force bases has uncovered a second, separate scandal — allegations of vast cheating operation involving people with launch control of nuclear missiles.
The Associated Press reports on Wednesday that the military is investigating allegations that roughly 37 missile launch control officers at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana, where the military houses nuclear-armed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles, have been cheating on "routine tests the service members have to take to insure their job proficiency." CNN puts the number closer to 34 officers, and says all have been "decertified."
Yes, you should concerned military officers with access to nuclear missiles have been cheating on job proficiency tests. They should be acing job proficiency tests. According to CNN, the officers were sharing exam answers over text messages that came to light during a drug investigation across the six bases, including Malmstrom, that revealed the second scandal at the Air Force base.
Last Thursday, the Air Force announced two 341st Air Wing officers stationed at Malmstrom were suspended for allegedly possessing legal drugs. That investigation, we now know, expanded to 10 suspended officers across six bases, and the alleged cheating was uncovered at some point during questioning. (They drugs were "recreational," the AP says. Not the hard stuff.)
The U.S. nuclear program's public image has taken a hit after hit over the last year. A number of senior officers have resigned, including the deputy commander of the entire program, for passing fake chips at a casino. Another senior officer was fired in October after going on an embarrassing four-day bender in Russia. Performance reviews have found low morale among members of the program. And now everyone is taking drugs and cheating on tests.
Apparently the nuclear program is a lot like summer school?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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