Air Force Cheating Scandal Implicates 34 Nuke Missile Officers

Image: Air Force Cheating Scandal Implicates 34 Nuke Missile Officers U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 10:18 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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In one embarrassing incident of several for the Air Force, the military branch is investigating widespread cheating among officers in charge of securing nuclear missiles.

Air Force officers told the Washington Post that it learned about the alleged cheating on nuclear proficiency exams while investigating another scandal dealing with drug abuse at six different bases. 

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The Air Force was already dealing with allegations that a two-star general in charge of nuclear missiles went on a drinking binge in Russia last summer, where he was reportedly fraternizing with suspicious foreign women.

Despite the problems, Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III told the Washington Post and other reporters that the security and reliability of its ballistic missiles are safe.

"The nuclear missile force remains ready and able to accomplish its mission," Welsh, the Air Force's chief of staff, said. "This is not about the compromise of nuclear weapons. It’s about compromise of the integrity of some of our airmen."

The alleged cheating incident has prompted an investigation of 34 officers with the 341st Missile Wing, according to CNN. Two of those in the cheating probe were being investigated in the drug scandal. 

There are about 190 officers who oversee the readiness of the nuclear weapons systems in Montana. The Air Force told CNN that all of its officers in the command are being retested.

Cheating on the proficiency exam at the Global Strike Command at Malmstrom Air Force base allegedly happened last August and September.

"This is absolutely unacceptable behavior and it is completely contrary to our core values in the Air Force and as everybody here knows, the No. 1 core value for us is integrity," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told CNN.

Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement that Defense secretary Chuck Hagel "was deeply troubled" about the Air Force revelations and agrees to taking aggressive steps to take to correct the issues.

The Washington Post reported the officer at the Global Strike Command, all of who are lieutenants or captains, have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

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