US personnel at nuclear missile base suspended over drug use
Over a dozen US military personnel at a nuclear missile base have been suspended and are under investigation for “illegal drug activity,” possibly including cocaine.
The US military said on Friday the 14 airmen under investigation are mainly or entirely members of a security force who helped secure a US nuclear complex at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, located outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Security forces at nuclear missile bases are entrusted to patrol the missile fields and respond to any security emergencies. They are highly trained and given enormous responsibility.
“The drug allegations involving these 14 airmen are credible,” said Air Force General Robin Rand, Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, adding the allegations involved activities by the junior airmen during their off-duty hours.
Officials said those under investigation have been suspended from their duties while their cases are being investigated.
Two years ago, while former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was visiting the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren, officials disclosed that a number of missile launch officers were under investigation for drug use.
That investigation led to the discovery that dozens of launch officers had been cheating on their proficiency tests at Malmstrom Air Force Base, which also operates Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles.
At the time, Hagel said, “Personnel failures within this force threaten to jeopardize the trust the American people have placed in us to keep our nuclear weapons safe and secure.”
A study carried out by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a think tank that works closely with the Pentagon, found that over the next 30 years, the US Defense Department will need nearly $1 trillion in order to gradually upgrade all intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarines and aircraft capable of deploying nuclear warheads.