The US Air Force Has Sacked Nine Nuclear Missile Commanders for Cheating

By Adam Clark Estes on at

This is a little unsettling. A year-long investigation into alleged cheating on proficiency exams has resulted in the dismissal of nine nuclear missile commanders at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, US. The military expects to punish dozens of junior officers, as well.

You probably didn't even realise that nuclear missile commanders have to take exams, but it's very important. After all, these are the men and women guarding a nuclear arsenal. They should be up to speed on how the missile launch systems work in case, you know, they need to be used. And the Air Force isn't interested in failure. The investigation found that the military maintained a "100 per cent or failure" policy. In other words, these commanders couldn't get a single answer wrong. The Air Force now says it will lower the passing grade to 90 per cent.

It gets worse. The Air Force actually found out about the alleged cheating during an investigation into 11 officers accused of drug possession. So the guardians of our nuclear missiles are doing drugs and cheating on tests? Apparently they are. As NBC News reports: "the investigation found that officers were texting answers to each other, and that others knew about the cheating but did not report it."

It actually gets even worse. This unsettling news arrives just a few months after we learned that Air Force officers were leaving the blast doors to the missile silos open. At the time, the Associated Press reported on a number of problems with the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile force "including a failed safety inspection, the temporary sidelining of launch officers deemed unfit for duty and the abrupt firing last week of the two-star general in charge." And that's not even getting into the whole head-scratcher of the fact that the nuclear launch code was 00000000 for 20 years. [NBC News]