Air Force chief cites 'systemic problems' as nuke cheating scandal grows
January 30th, 2014
12:05 PM ET

Air Force chief cites 'systemic problems' as nuke cheating scandal grows

By Barbara Starr

A cheating scandal involving members of the Air Force nuclear command has tripled in size over the past two weeks with more people identified as investigators stepped up their probe.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said on Thursday that 92 officers from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana are now implicated in the scandal over a proficiency test administered last year.

Two weeks ago, officials first alleged 34 officers serving with the 341st Missile Wing were involved - either cheating directly or failing to speak up about others who had done so. It occurred last August and September and involved text messages.

Those swept up in the scandal represent about half of those who took the test. All have been decertified, meaning they cannot carry out their nuclear-related duties.

Despite the scandal, James said she remains "confident" in the "safety, reliability and effectiveness of the nuclear mission." That's because there are multiple safeguards in place.
Nevertheless, James said the situation was "completely unacceptable" and said "we do have systemic problems in the force."

James described, for example, hearing about a drive for perfection that creates a climate of undue stress and fear.
She visited Malmstrom and the Air Force's other intercontinental ballistic missile bases, meeting with leaders and airmen to discuss the issue as part of a review ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

This is the latest incident to rock the Air Force nuclear operations.

Last year, a missile unit at Malmstrom failed a safety and security inspection.

They operate about a third of the 450 Minuteman III nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles in the U.S. force, according to the Air Force.

Also last year, another outfit based at Minot, North Dakota, did poorly in an inspection, resulting in the removal of 17 military personnel from their jobs.

soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Duhhhmb

    Sherry, I commend almost all military personnel for sticking with it at all. Yes I joke, but it is a joke of tears as so many honest, dedicated, God fearing men are by law under control by pure evil in our capital.

    I just hope I can hold my breath long enough for this problem to be solved, the stench makes it hard to breath.

    February 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  2. NNN

    This is nothing new for the Air Force or any of the services, especially among the commissioned ranks: lying, cheating, stealing, and disruption of the work environment are commonplace. You would think that even an ounce of dedication would compel these people to be the best they can be at their jobs and to dedicate themselves to doing whatever it takes to learn their jobs inside and out. But the fact is it's just a job and a paycheck for these people, they could care less about anything or anyone else. Quality control on personnel in the Air Force is a well-known standing joke, if they applied it, most positions would go unfilled.

    February 1, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Duhhhmb

      Why would an underpaid totally trashed underling be honest when his leader in chief is dishonest, traitorous and caught lying repeatedly ?

      February 2, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reply
      • NNN

        Underpaid? You can't be serious. Most of them would be looking at jobs in the fast food industry if not for the military.

        February 2, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
      • Phil in KC

        @NNN – I suspect you are just trolling and making wild inflammatory statements. You certainly are not intimately familiar with those in the military or the mission they're tasked with carrying out.

        February 3, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • Phil in KC

      @NNN – This certainly does not sound like the Air Force I knew. The people I worked with were intelligent individuals dedicated to the mission. Of course, most of those were enlisted. But I had no reason to doubt the officer staff in that regard either. Oh sure, we had one whose management style left a great deal to be desired, but he was the exception.

      February 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • NNN

        You're naive. No one is buying into the military propaganda anymore, just too many people know it's a sleeze-infested cesspool.

        February 5, 2014 at 6:49 am |
      • Phil in KC

        @NNN – and you, sir, must be a troll looking to stir things up. Check around and I think you'll find yourself in the minority where that opinion is concerned.

        February 5, 2014 at 11:42 am |
  3. aurelius

    vvv

    January 31, 2014 at 5:20 am | Reply
  4. aurelius

    Yep, like those anti Obama folks, including most military personnel, would say: Those lazy welfare recipients like to live off those who are earning money and paying taxes. Guess, they have never been the only ones.

    January 31, 2014 at 5:20 am | Reply
  5. Kjhfs Hkhfs

    ‘systemic problems’ with the military industrial complex.

    January 30, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  6. Nancy Shinabargar

    I respect the Secretary of the Air Force immensely for putting her credibility on the line and investigating this. Two years ago, when the FBI's Washington Field Office in D.C. had a similar problem, Director Robert S. Mueller, III just brushed it off as, "Boys will be Boys." Good for her.

    January 30, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  7. Terrance

    If you have every worked in the nuclear enterprise, you will have a bit of empathy for them as do I. However, I do not condone what they did in the least bit. Wrong is wrong, and what they did was wrong. I worked as an enlisted in the nuclear enterprise. It was extremely stressful for a job that has no true threat. However, I did not cheat at any time during my time at Malmstrom. Many others did. That doesn't make it right, either. If those would have been enlisted folks, they would be strung up in public for their crimes. That's another subplot to this story. I wonder how many of them will just get reassigned or moved. The whole thing stinks. My time in the service has been and forever will be my best I can do. Why? Because I was raised that way, and the American people deserve it. However, we have sunk into this culture of 'everyone else does it' or 'I'm not going to be the one to tell the boss things are messed up' mentalities, and because of this, I think I am done after this enlistment. I can stand it no longer. More of this will happen if that doesn't get fixed.

    January 30, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • tgk

      A RIF is coming up in June...if the USAF wants to get down to their Congressionally mandated end strength #s for officers sounds like a good idea to start with these 92..it'll alleviate dumping possibly a lot of quality folks.

      January 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Reply
      • Truth

        There aren't anymore quality folks than those who serve as missileers.

        January 31, 2014 at 10:53 am |
    • Bill

      I was an AF Officer in the 90's. There was a culture of heavy drinking, in fact I can say at parties it was
      encoureged. In the base medical center, (a large one) it became known That a Major was suffering from alcoholism,
      was coming in with ETOH on her breath, and making patient care mistakes. She was in charge of a part of the hospital.
      Several junior officers after months went to talk to the OIC. They sent her to rehab, ok no problem it is a disease, she had 16 years, hate to lose that pension. The problem is they sent her back to the same position, and wrote neutral to mildly negative fitness reports on all the officers she suspected ratted her out. Several jr officers seeing these evals, just resigned as soon as they could. Some had as many as eight years of service. Had this 04 been a tech E4. he would have been toast. There was a culture of senior officers protecting each other.

      February 2, 2014 at 8:50 am | Reply
  8. mindstorms1

    One has to wonder why someone would want to cheat to get a job sitting in a silo all day? And then there is the added bonus knowing that if you actually had to launch that missile it probably means the purpose of the job which is to prevent nuclear war has failed.

    January 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Reply
    • Phil in KC

      I'm not sure it has to do with incompetence. Maybe. But my bet is that it has more to do with laziness. After all, why bust your butt to pass an exam when someone else has the answers right there for you? That's not to excuse the behavior. When you're dealing with nukes, it is extremely serious and you should know that cheating could cost you your job or even worse.

      January 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Reply
      • Duhhhmb

        And the fact that the test was compiled by an idiot and had no relevance to doing a good job.

        February 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
  9. Craig

    The excuse is they don't have a mission any more. The NAVY has never had a team fail a reactor test, and the subs don't really seem to have much of a mission either. Stop making excuses and start making these folks walk the plank. They get paid to do a job...and like civilians, we should expect them to do it or else.

    January 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Reply
    • Tychi

      Maybe the military can outsource it to civilians.

      January 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  10. don otto

    Lets proofread that first paragraph guys

    January 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  11. Michael James

    Unfortunately this happens all too often in the ICBM field...test scores are the only measure of merit and the those leading the Squadrons, Groups and Wings were guilty of the same thing when they were there as Lieutenants...it's a culture of get along and go along so the collective group succeeds. It is shameful b/c the woman leading the 90th Space Wing was a major contributor to the cheating scandal back in the 1990s...cheating obviously succeeded in her and many other cases.

    January 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  12. Locomotion

    I was a Supt of Training in the Air Force. There has always been a problem with cheating on exams in the Air Force. They also have problems in the Army, Navy, and their sub organizations. It is up to the training professionals to maintain test security as well as testing security. Not every Training Professional in the service is a professional. There is tremendous pressure from above to "meet the standards". I once caught on of my subordinates hiding (lying about) overdue training for their assigned maintenance organization. This huge, it is briefed to the base commander on a regular basis. The solution is to ensure that commanders mean what they say when they say that they support training! The commander is at fault here, I can guarantee it.

    January 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  13. Whombatt

    I knew several Air Force officers who were deeply involved in the defense of our country via nuclear things that go BOOM. To a man they were dedicated and pure military–they also were flawed like most of us.

    One, a co-pilot of a B52 was a drunk and admitted that he was under the influence on more than one occasion when in the air and piloting the aircraft. Another, a silo-commander, was our go-to guy for weed and booze (at PX prices).

    Would they have "pushed the red button"? Probably–that was their job.

    January 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  14. Dreamer96

    Maybe the Air Force should just put the answers for the tests on the internet so the operators will be able to find the step by step instructions for launching our Nuclear Missiles.....

    This sounds like the problems the US was having under Reagan...nearly 7,000 military members lost their access to Nuclear Weapons because of a wide range of reasons....Including Mental Illness, Alcoholism, and illegal drug use...That was one reason Reagan held Nuclear Arm Reduction talks with NATO and the Soviet Union...The problems were a curing with them too....

    January 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  15. charles bowen

    I'd bet it's double agent Snowden leaking those Russian Secrets Now.....That a boy Snowden all that NSA training finally paying off.... Putin is such an Ego Maniac he has'nt even noticed.... Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    January 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  16. Let It Alone

    The job is kept simple purposefully, so that they don't have time to think of what they are about to do....If they thought about it....do you understand how many would hesitate to follow directions!

    Answer the alert notice
    Verify the code
    Turn the keys
    Push the button

    IF they had to stop and do calculations and most would think twice about what they were doing and .....not launch!

    January 30, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  17. Barry G.

    How much does an officer make in the Air Force nuclear command?

    Maybe it's time for me to change careers and put in an application there?

    Or better yet–how much do generals make? I think I'd make a good one–and they probably make good money.

    Does anyone know where I can get an application and where I apply?

    Or better yet, I think I'll become a lobbyist. I hear they can make up to $1 million to $2 million, per year; and, all you have to do is sell your soul!

    January 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  18. kevin

    I don't understand why a proficiency test is even necessary. You're not supposed to do anything without the checklist or procedure manual in your hand and opened to the proper page. Follow the written steps. No memory required.

    January 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  19. Let It Alone

    How hard can it be

    1. Answer the phone, Say yes Sir.
    2. Read the code correctly
    3. Turn the Key.
    4. Push the button.
    5. Wish everything you know.....Good Bye!

    January 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  20. Dr Strangelove

    Slim pickin's. i think thats the new air force recruiting goal. not enough intelligence left for the officer corps..so we have it there's Slim Pickins.. POE, recall the bombers or strike now !!!

    January 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • Purified Water

      I agree, know the code....verify the code...turn the key in concurrence with your counterpart ( less than 5 feet away) and then press the red button. Now that being said... think about if you were stuck in tube 50 feet underground with a dude for 12-18 hours of continuous shift work. Not sure but it stems from the top, the morale must be low for them to fail something like this.. oh well use more drones I say, call in SKYNET and and stop drinking that purified water! Enjoy the sunset....

      January 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  21. asdf

    The Cold War is over. Why is the Air Force not being called the Army Air Corp again? The quickest way to reduce wasteful spending on defense pork would be to get rid of the upper Air Force management.

    January 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Reply
    • asdf

      It would also cure these BS in the end. The fact is the Navy can do everything the AF does better for the most part anyway.

      January 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Reply
      • JA

        Really? Do you have the knowledge and education of a elementary school student. It's dumb statements like this that make Americans look like idiots. You have no clear oversight of how the defense department works, just from what you have seen or heard on T.V. or the internet. Until you have been INVOLVED with it directly, keep your uneducated comments to yourself. The internet; the gateway for idiots to flourish.

        January 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      • Guest

        You have no idea what you're talking about. The Navy utterly lacks the infrastructure to maintain their fleet of vessels and to keep up with a worldwide airlift operation like the one the Air Force operates. The four services exist for a reason. They have overlapping capabilities but none could replace any other without massively ballooning in size.

        The problem here is that it's only a matter of time before Air Force brass quietly steps in to protect their own officers. If enlisted people had pulled something like this they'd be drummed out of the force in an instant. There's no accountability if you're commissioned.

        January 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
      • Jones22

        I spent 22 years working my ass off as a mechanic in the Air Force. How dare you insult the men and women of the USAF. You NAVY guys are so quick to judge and disrespect other services. I have seen it time and again...so go fck yourself and have a nice day!!!

        January 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
    • Rob J

      Stop the time spent on the Fit to Fight madness and get back to doing the job correctly. The Air Force mission is the mission.

      January 30, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  22. Randa

    Unless you are a maintainer, unless you are in the military, if you have NEVER done this Job. You know nothing about any of it. except what the news wants you to know,
    SHUT UP!!!

    January 30, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Reply
    • John

      You sound a little stressed Randa...need a hug ?

      January 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • historyspeaks10

      when over 50% of the USA budget goes towards alleged national defense, we have every right to complain how we're being bankrupted by chasing a bunch of fake BS bad guys.

      January 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Reply
      • KC

        Fact check. 19% goes to Defense. http://www.cbpp.org

        January 30, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
    • Pineal

      So if we knew about what is entailed in the job we would be OK with the personnel cheating on their exams?

      January 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Reply
    • Barry G.

      I agree with Randa.

      When you're politically well-connected and a member of the elite class, there should be no accountability, whatsoever–just like the elite in N. Korea, China, Russia and other places.

      Besides these people lobbied hard to get where they are. And now you want to hold them accountable! Come on, give them a break!

      January 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  23. Chasity

    This has got to stop.

    January 30, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  24. Bill

    This shows not only a systemic problem in the Air Force, but also in society. When children are raised to believe that this sort of cheating is acceptable, they might very well become the Air Force officers in charge of safeguarding their country in a missile silo.
    So what has caused society to slip so badly in the standards taught to our children? This is a question each and every parent should be asking themselves.

    January 30, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  25. pbernasc

    WOW . guys in charge o launching nuclear missiles are cheating on proficiency tests ... I feel so safe now

    January 30, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  26. John

    " James described, for example, hearing about a drive for perfection that creates a climate of undue stress and fear. "

    This quote really just shows how far thinking and country has gone down. She sounds like she is trying to almost justify this. Are we being too hard on people for wanting their best ? REALLY !!! These people have nuclear bombs at their fingertips, and maybe we are expecting too much from them to do their best. How about if everyone grows a pair and acts like an adult...grow up and be responsible and don't blame everything on someone else. If you can't handle the pressure, then do work at a car wash. When will the BS end of pampering and babying everyone !!! Not for me...If you are an ass, I will tell you.

    January 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • Johnston

      You're an A$$

      January 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • clindseysmith

      Those water hoses at the car wash have pretty high pressures too... maybe try ditch digging?

      January 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Reply
      • Twise09

        Nice

        January 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
  27. joey

    if the public only knew. in my 21 years, i saw much worse than this

    January 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  28. Andrey

    American nuclear weapons were made redundant by politicians demonstrating how they can destroy countries by simply helping them "to establish a real democracy". One "democracy" is worth hundreds of rockets! So stop worrying about Air Force personnel, try to have US politicians to pass the proficiency test!

    January 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  29. CosmicC

    At least it wasn't privatized. They would have buried the results, promoted those in charge, and told the auditors that the test results were sound.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • Leftcoastrocky

      I agree.

      January 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  30. DB

    I don't get it. Cheating on WHAT? Isn't their job to just turn a key and push a button? What kind of test does that require?

    January 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Reply
    • meki60

      This is just a story to take the focus off Holder and the criminal Obama admin.

      January 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Reply
      • DB

        We all heard you the first time.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
      • Mjritter

        Your ignorance is only exceeded by your stupidity...

        January 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
    • Mjritter

      Do a little research and you might learn something

      January 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • HurrDurr

      Did you fail to read the article before posting your message? If so, please read the part about the "scandal over a proficiency test administered last year." There is something called a proficiency test to measure... tada... proficiency. Apparently there is widespread cheating on that test within this unit. Get it?

      January 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • LR

      Cheated on a test. They take 3 tests every month and there is an expectation of 100% on every one (passing is a 90%). Along with these tests ,there is monthly training in a sim where again you are watched and evaluated and can have your certification pulled if you make too many errors. This is just monthly and does not include yearly evaluation and inspections. I am not trying to justify what happened, just wanted to put it in perspective. It is a very stressful environment, where one mistake (failing a test) can affect your entire career. I am not sure which test this article is talking about or if there is more than one test involved since there are three different ones.

      January 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Reply
      • Bonedriver

        The same holds true for any USAF pilot. You don't see them whining about having to take tests and sims. The bigger issue here is that missile Os have their finger on the button. Pilots, aside from B-2 and B-52 pilots, are free and clear of the nuke mission, but we are still required to perform at a high standard, and we do it. That being said, the culture of the AF does play a part in this. The current AF is a "one mistake" AF. If you screw up, just once, it can end your entire career. That pressure can push some to do what these officers did. It doesn't justify their actions, but you have to understand these are people that know how bad it is on the outside, that their skills are minimally transferable to civilian jobs and they serve under a leadership that will willingly crush them if they make the slightest mistake. Missile Officers aren't the only that suffer from this. Most military Officers and NCOs fear losing their careers over simple mistakes. This drives a culture of backstabbing and political gamesmanship that has nothing to do with the mission and everything to do with personal advancement. I don't pretend that this only exists in the Military, but at least in the civilian world you can make mistakes numerous times and not lose your entire career over it.

        February 3, 2014 at 11:16 am |
  31. John

    Oh great, they'll bust these guys and now Illinois will have another 92 hopefuls for governor

    January 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  32. DumbJarhead

    Eye thought the air force wuz suppose 2 b smart?

    January 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Reply
    • Phil in KC

      I spent 5 1/2 years in the Air Force and I had the privilege of working with some extremely sharp and dedicated people. Of course, I was enlisted.....

      January 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  33. meki60

    you worry about this, how about the criminal activities of Eric Holder?

    January 30, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Reply
    • concernedforliberty

      How much does Faux Noise pay you to troll CNN with your Obama administration hate?

      January 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Reply
      • meki60

        not as much as Obama pays you for your salty comments

        January 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
      • Leftcoastrocky

        I agree.

        January 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
    • Mjritter

      Criminal activities ? Want to list them? I believe that your understanding of the law would fit on a pinhead..

      January 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  34. alf564

    Guess we will be bringing in replacements from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lybia, Syria, Egypt, and other Easter Muslim Nations !!!

    January 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • CosmicC

      Thank you for your input. You can now return to your cross burning.

      January 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  35. Nathaniel

    Cmon Details Barbara Starr. How were they cheating? What exam??? Details?

    January 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Reply
    • OldMMIIIGuy

      The test is called an Emergency War Order or EWO test. It's a written exam that requires calculations with time differences that is taken every month to maintain certification. Passing is 90%, so a careless error or two can cost an officer's career.

      January 30, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  36. Norm

    The worst part is that the test only has 1 question:

    1. Which button do you press to blow up the planet
    A. Your shirt button
    B. The "Extra Sugar" button on the coffee machine
    C. The red button. The beautiful, shiny button The jolly, candy-like button?
    D. All of the above in no particular order

    January 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  37. JesterJames

    So they texting the Chinese kid for his answers?

    January 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  38. Stray

    Yes, Barack Obama personally made sure they cheated because "reasons".

    January 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • concernedforliberty

      really? your going to bring the WH in to this? A base the president had likely never even visited? Even if he has, no president and no one on the JCS or the secretary of defense or even most generals do not get involved in day to day running of a base let alone testing for any placement.

      January 30, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Reply
      • Stray

        Protip: I was joking.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
      • concernedforliberty

        My bad but you have to admit the political trolling here is ridiculous.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
  39. SilverHair

    Where is the new wing commander?

    January 30, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  40. hitman

    Can't blame Bush for this!

    January 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  41. Abrondon

    I guess rocket science is even too hard for rocket scientists.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  42. potomacscott

    Soon this administration will have purged the military of all those that speak the truth of the tyranny happening in D.C.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Reply
    • Tanker

      If you are speaking of the Obama administration I can't believe he does not stand up and say "If I had a son, one of these officers could be him".

      January 30, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  43. Organic1

    Can't keep their missiles in the silos.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Reply
    • Independent

      They were cheating on a proficiency exam.........

      January 30, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Reply
      • JB

        Please define "cheating" in this scenario.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
  44. tet1953

    Eliminate nuclear weapons and we won't have this problem. Sheesh.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • Jeff

      In an ideal world, perhaps we could. But this 'aint it. Feelings on nukes aside, the notion that eliminating them eliminates this problem is silly. It's akin to saying, "eliminate laptops and you'll eliminate home break-ins." IE, removing the field in which these gentlemen were willing to 'cheat' does not change the fact that they were willing to cheat.

      January 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Reply
      • CosmicC

        Yes, but cheating on a driver's test can kill a few pedestrians. Cheating on a nuclear operations test can kill half of the people in the world.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
    • Tanker

      Yeah.... how??? We loose ours I promise it will be the last mistake we EVER make.

      January 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Reply
      • Strider64

        Albert Einstein said it best "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

        January 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
  45. JB

    What's cheating? People acting like a team and sharing common information on a test so they can work together with common knoewledge. Some brass has a stick up his/her ass.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • JB

      knowledge

      January 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Reply
    • MagicBishop

      This isn't a college exam moron. They are responsible for handling weapons with the potential to eradicate all life on earth. They are expected to know the content through and through. Nice to know some brass is actually doing their job and holding people accountable.

      January 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Reply
      • JB

        exactly, it's not a college exam. I would like to know what is cheating, specific details. If the "cheaters" are still doing their job and keeping us safe, I could care less how they pass a test on a piece of paper. Some brass are also looking just to get promoted too.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
      • MagicBishop

        @JB: As the article states, they are accused of cheating on a proficiency exam. As a tax paying citizen, I demand that anyone working around nuclear materials has a proficient understanding of the materials and their associated handling methodologies. They should be tested regularly and any inkling of cheating should raise a huge public concern and garner an appropriate response. If they don't like the test, there are other jobs that don't require field expertise knowledge.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
      • JB

        The facts aren't being shared. How did they cheat on skill exam? Was there any problem with their performance before they took the exam. We all pay taxes and I would like to know what the specific grievances are.

        January 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
      • Duhhhmb

        Well JB it is widely known that you push the button with your index finger when told "Push the button on three......one, two, four." Hey dummy you used you middle finger.

        February 2, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
    • FPT

      It's because we have regulations on test compromise in the AF. It is unlawful and punishable by Art 92 of the UCMJ.

      January 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Reply
      • JB

        Nothing is so black and white. I would like to understand the cheating accusations in detail, but alot of the times in life, accusations is all you need.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
      • FPT

        With the military there is a lot of black and white. If the test is covered with the test compomise statement then any discussion, disclosure, repoduction etc is test compromise and is punishable. With certain test(ex. promotion testing) you can't even group study, but for upgrade training, you can group study, just can't disclose information about the test. During my 18+ years in I have seen a E-9 with over 25 years in service get bustest down to E-1 and KICKed out...no retirement benefits due to his choice of helping someone(believe it was numerous) with promotion test.

        January 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
      • JB

        FPT- Great breakdown and I thank you for your serivce.

        Sounds like a good way too to reduce the troops too, which has been a requested of our Armed Forces. I understand too how "discipline" the military must be or has been. Also, I have seen (as I am sure you have) unethical individuals excel in the ranks and good leaders (soldiers) forced to resign.
        That's sad for the E-9, esp if he did his job well. He obviously did things right most of the time to be a high enlisted rank. Hence the problem of things being so black and white. The real world is not like that. He got caught helping too much and truly hurting no one. Still that's one person's opinion ... and being busted down from an E-9 to an E-1 ... thats personal. We ned to change our thinking as a whole.

        January 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
      • FPT

        You are right, there are people that move up the ranks and don't deserve it and the good are beat down, forced out or struggle to move up the ranks in time.
        From the outside it doesn't seem like the E-9 hurt anyone, but it falls along the lines of the unethical moving up. The example being for promotion it isn't as simple as scoring a 70 or higher to get promoted. The score changes every year based on everyones score. So if 500 are testing for E-5 only a certain % are promoted. So if the E-9s compromise helped 10 people get promoted, then 10 people who worked/studied hard and deserved to be didn't get it. Also, the E-9 may have got caught the 1 year helping people test, but might have done it for many years.
        The military is being very competetive to stay in now. With all the reductions we are currently faced with, we are weeding out the problems, but the line is normally higher and we have to rack and stack our people to ensure only the very best are retained. It's getting to the point a 1 time mistake 4 years ago can be the one thing that sets someone apart from another. It might be something as simple as a Fitness test fail...might have had a bad day, caught a cramp whatever, but it could be the person's undoing.
        Back on topic, the reason for these test rules is because it is just something we need to pass. As a "Weapons Troop", basically a bomb/missile loader, who has been assigned to a nuclear wing that loaded nukes onto bombers. We had a lot of other training, rules and responsibilities. It is all for a reason, because of the seriousness of those types of weapons. I had to take annual training and a test as well. It required me to study and remember the regulations, instructions and rules of dealing with nuclear weapons. In fact the rules of loading them are extremely strict. With a normal conventional bomb I could do multiple tasks, and not always in a particular order as long as they were safe. With nuclear loads, it had to be in a specific order, no multi-tasking and this was all done while maintaining 2 people with visual contact of each other at all times and we are timed. If we are 1 second over the time standard or get one step out of order we fail, get decertified. In order to work with or around these weapons it requires a Top Secret clearance and there are many things that will get your clearance pulled for good. Back in the 90s when I dealt with this I could not legally self medicate for anything without turning my badge for the duration the medication was in my system. This included things like asprin and Nyquil.
        So the "real world" might not be like that, but that is because the civilian world is not responsibile for a weapon that could vaporize a major city. The military world is a whole different game. We provide young men and women training and by 18 or 19 years old they are working on aircraft and when the pilot comes out, he is putting his life in their hands that they did their job correctly. My guys are entrusted to load the weapons correctly and safely. My guys mistakes can cause our men and women on the ground to lose their life due to a bomb not releasing or detonating when they come under fire.

        January 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
      • guru2t2

        FPT – Excellent comments. I'd like to add that in my 27+ years of service I've seen a decline in the quality of Air Force officers. Upon a recent non-selection for promotion, I asked my Commander if he'd give me some feedback. He replied that "I was simply too passionate regarding the projects I am assigned. Further progression will require you adopt a more sterile demeanor and lead from aside." Lead from aside? Sterile demeanor?? Imagine those words coming from Curtis LeMay or Ron Fogleman. This crop of pansies are not fit to lead our Air Force and should be axed with a quickness. I doubt our ability to retain the high ground next time at bat. At this point I feel our best days are behind us.

        January 30, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
      • JB

        Thank you for your service too, Guru2t2. If you think AF officers are declining, go meet some Army officers... Pre-Madonnas.

        FPT – I had a friend that wouldn't take his PDS medication because he was afraid of losing his TS. There needs to be more common sense in execution of regulations and not blind judgement.

        God Bless.

        January 30, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • Sherry

        Finally! Someone who knows what the hell he is talking about and a positive representation of the AF. My husband is a 26-year Chief, and I was getting pretty sick of the comments above. You put it all into perspective and gave a reasonable explanation without the ridiculous political answers or cheapshots. The only thing I'd add is they don't know the whole story, and perhaps they should wait to judge until it's out there. Further, these aren't representative examples of the AF officers and non-commissioned officers. We have some bad apples, but so does every service, and so does every civilian company for that matter. Our motto is Integrity First. Service before Self. Excellence In All We Do. Most of our Airment take that seriously.

        January 30, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
      • Duhhhmb

        Kinda brings to mind Kerry's career and now being Sec. Of State yes ?

        February 2, 2014 at 3:58 pm |

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