US Air Force strips 17 officers of nuclear missile power after several bad reviews
According to the Associated Press on Wednesday, Air Force yanked 17 officers of their authority to control and launch nuclear missiles after a "remarkably dim" review of their unit's launch skills.
An Intercontinental ballistic missile control team at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., demonstrated a poor understanding of missile firing procedures during a March audit, prompting the Air Force to pull 17 personnel from their assignments.
The 17 are being sent to undergo 60 to 90 days of intensive refresher training on how to do their jobs. The action comes after their unit performed poorly on an inspection and one officer was investigated for potential compromise of nuclear launch codes, according to Lt. Col. John Dorrian, an Air Force spokesman.
One more unit staffer could face punishment for purportedly violating operating standards through an unidentified action that threatened the security of codes for firing the weapons. None of the issues endangered nuclear arms at the base.
The news follows a series of incidents in recent years that have uncovered major problems with the oversight of the US's nuclear arsenal.
In 2007, airmen at Minot accidentally loaded a B-52 with six nuclear weapons. The aircraft then flew to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
In another occasion, nuclear weapons parts were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan. The defense department learned of the error in 2008, 18 months after the fuses for nuclear warheads were shipped.
Those incidents led to the dismissals of the service's civilian and military leaders and caused the Air Force to consolidate its bomber wings and nuclear missile squadrons under the Global Strike Command.
Source: By Emily Sutherlin, examiner.com News - 16 May 2013
Photo: The US Air Force F-16 Fighter Aircrafts. 17 US Air Force servicemen were stripped of their power to control nuclear missiles, including launching if necessary, after several bad reviews of the team. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)