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34 nuclear missile launch officers implicated in cheating scandal

The Air Force says 34 nuclear missile launch officers have now been implicated in a cheating scandal and have been stripped of their security clearance, the AP reports.

The allegations come after some of the officers texted each other  the answers to a monthly test gauging their understanding of how  nuclear missiles are operated. Some may have known about the  cheating, but failed to report it.

“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.

The cheating was found during an investigation into drug use  involving 11 Air Force officers across six bases in the US and  England. Of the three missile launch officers associated with the  drug scandal, two serve at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in  Montana and one at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. The  two officers at Malmstrom are also being investigated in the  cheating scandal.

“This is absolutely unacceptable behavior and it is  completely contrary to our core values in the Air Force and as  everybody here knows the Number One core value for us is  integrity,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told  reporters.

Approximately 190 officers oversee preparedness of US nuclear  weapons systems, meaning the cheating scandal touches almost 20  percent of that force.

All officers in the command will be re-tested by the end of  Thursday, the Air Force said.

Both officers at the Montana facility – where the Pentagon’s  Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles are controlled  from – are suspected of possessing narcotics, representatives for  the military admitted to reporters last Thursday. The Air Force  Office of Special Investigations has opened a probe into the  allegations, and both unnamed officers have in the interim been  relieved of their access to classified information.

News of the drug investigation broke on Thursday moments before  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was set to deliver  what the Associated Press considered a “carefully planned pep  talk” to missile officers at one of the two other facilities in  the country that hosts ICBM forces amid reports of low morale  within their ranks.

Speaking directly to the troops at the F.E. Warren Air Force  Base, where one of the officers in caught up in the drug scandal  serves, Hagel told the missilers, “We depend on your  professionalism.”

“You are doing something of great importance to the  world,” the AP quoted Hagel as saying. “You have chosen  a profession where there is no room for error — none.”

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Source: rt.com

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