A series of missteps in US nuclear bases spell trouble for a nuclear force doubted by some for its relevance, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
The recent setbacks include a failed safety and security inspection at a base in Montana in August, followed by the firing of the colonel there in charge of security forces, the report said.
In May, 17 Minuteman 3 missile launch control officers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., had been taken off duty over what one officer called “rot” inside the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) force.
The AP disclosed that launch crews at Minot scored the equivalent of a “D” grade on missile operations. The officer in charge of training and proficiency of Minot’s missile crews was fired in June.
The fired nuclear launch officers were “not taking the job seriously enough,” making their bosses concerned that they did not understand what it takes to “stay up to speed” on nuclear missile operations, the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, told Congress in May. What it boiled down to, he said, was a lack of “proper attitude.”
Capping the problems facing the US nuclear force, a two-star US general in charge of the Air Force’s nuclear intercontinental missiles was fired on Friday due to personal misbehavior.
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was removed from command of the 20th Air Force, which is responsible for maintaining a total of 450 ICBMs at three bases across the US.
On Wednesday, Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, deputy commander at US Strategic Command, which oversees all nuclear war-fighting forces, was also fired for illegal gambling activities.