|Cheating American nuke officers turfed
The US military has suspended 34 officers in charge of launching nuclear missiles for cheating on a proficiency test, Air Force leaders said Wednesday.
The scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana marked the latest in a series of damaging revelations dogging the US nuclear force, including a separate inquiry into illegal drugs that came to light last week.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told a news conference there was cheating, AFP reports.
Officials said it was the largest scale cheating scandal ever in the nuclear force, as it implicated roughly 20 percent of the Malmstrom base's 190-member launch officer corps.
The Air Force also stripped the officers of their security clearances over the allegations.
The cheating came to light as criminal investigators were looking into alleged illicit drug possession by some officers at Malmstrom and other bases.
Two of the officers implicated in the cheating also are linked to the separate drug case, which involves 11 airmen at six bases, officials said.
As a result of the cheating case, all launch officers in the missile force have been ordered to take the proficiency exam again and the testing will be completed by Thursday, said James.
“People at every level will be held accountable if and where appropriate,'' said the Air Force chief of staff, General Mark Welsh.
The four-star general said he and James planned to visit all missile bases in the coming days and deliver a stern message that “there is nothing more important to the nation than the integrity and the trustworthiness of the people who defend it and that anyone who doesn't understand that should find another line of work.''