Just over two months ago, news broke that 34 officers in charge of the nation's nuclear arsenal were suspended for cheating on their proficiency tests. That number later ballooned to 92 officers. Today, nine officers were removed from their posts and one was allowed to resign.
Missileers have an important job but one that has become much less visible and seemingly urgent since the end of the Cold War. They have to take a nuclear proficiency test every month and score 90 percent or higher. Most are pressured to get a perfect score to be considered for promotions. Studying is hard, so it turns out that a lot of missileers were cheating on their tests instead.
The officers who were fired "represented just about the entire chain of command at the base," according to the New York Times, and were punished not for cheating but for failing "to provide adequate oversight." Almost half of the missileers were either cheating or knew it was going on. According to the Department of Defense, another 91 officers will be disciplined.
A tenth officer, Col. Robert Stanley (right), was in charge of the entire Malmstrom Air Force base where this was going on. He was allowed to resign.
The nine officers aren't completely out of a job, however: Reuters says they will be "reassigned to staff jobs."
Time's Mark Thompson called the move a "Band-Aid" for "a sucking chest wound," interviewing a few former missileers who thought replacing the commanding officers wouldn't be enough to stop the issues that led to the cheating in the first place: that there just isn't much to do or importance assigned to the people in charge of our nuclear missiles.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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