U.S. Air Force hit with cheating scandal in nuke missile wing

A U.S. Air Force plane lands in Haiti. Credit: Getty Images.
A U.S. Air Force plane lands in Haiti. Credit: Getty Images.

The Air Force has suspended security clearances for 34 officers and is re-testing the entire force overseeing America’s nuclear-armed missiles after uncovering widespread cheating on a key proficiency exam.

The incident was the largest single case of cheating in America’s nuclear missile wings in memory, and is the latest embarrassment for a force that faces growing questions over discipline and morale in the post-Cold War era.

The head of the ICBM force, Air Force Major General Michael Carey, was fired in October for getting drunk and carousing with women while leading a government delegation to Moscow for talks on nuclear security.

The latest incident occurred last year and involved sharing answers by text message on a monthly proficiency exam for missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, Welsh said.

Malmstrom is one of three bases responsible for the United States’ 420 nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“There was cheating that took place with respect to this particular test. Some officers did it. Others apparently knew about it, and it appears that they did nothing, or at least not enough, to stop it or to report it,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at a news conference.

Welsh said the 34 individuals under investigation were no longer certified to do their jobs and their security clearances were suspended.

“They are restricted from missile crew duty,” Welsh said, adding “people at every level” would be held accountable.

Welsh said retesting of their entire missile crew of around 600 officers, ranging in ranks from 2nd lieutenants to Air Force captains, would completed by Thursday and the exam results would be made available to the public.

Both Welsh and James stressed they had full confidence in the security of America’s nuclear missile force.

“This is not about the compromise of nuclear weapons. It’s about compromise of the integrity of some of our airmen,” he said.

But the cheating scandal was only the latest embarrassment for the U.S. nuclear missile force and, more broadly, the Air Force.

The nuclear missile wing at the base where the cheating took place made news for failing an Air Force inspection last August.

Last week, the Air Force revealed that 10 Air Force officers at six bases were being investigated for alleged illegal drug possession. The Air Force on Wednesday said another officer was also being investigated.

Two of them were also implicated in the cheating scandal.

As for Carey, he was removed from his job as commander of the 20th Air Force in October for “conduct unbecoming a gentleman” during a trip to Russia last year.

According to an investigation by the Inspector General of the Air Force, Carey drank steadily throughout the trip, stayed out late with women he met in Moscow, and showed up 45 minutes late for an early morning departure for delegation meetings.

Carey was said to be slurring his words on a delegation trip to a local monastery and asked repeatedly for a chance to sing with a Beatles cover band at a Mexican restaurant.

The Air Force has sought to tighten controls over its nuclear weapons after a 2008 incident in which a B-52 bomber accidentally transported nuclear armed missiles across the country, leading to the ouster of then-Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and General T. Michael Moseley, the top uniformed officer in the Air Force.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Local

Islamic state issues video of beheading of U.S.…

The Islamic State militant group released a video purporting to show the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, the SITE monitoring service reported on Tuesday.

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

Sports

Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving…

Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels take control, Tigers and…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels take control, Tigers and Giants climb

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…