Air Force drug probe targets 10 officers in U.S., Britain

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:05pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ten U.S. Air Force officers are being investigated for alleged illegal drug possession, the Air Force said on Friday, a day after the probe surfaced as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was visiting a base to rally airmen in the U.S. nuclear force.

Lieutenant Colonel Brett Ashworth, an Air Force spokesman, said nine lieutenants and a captain at six bases in the United States and Britain were implicated in the investigation.

Ashworth said the investigation began with two officers at Edwards Air Force Base in California and "expanded, based on contact with the officers in question regarding recreational drug possession." Edwards is the second-largest U.S. Air Force Base and is central to new aircraft and weapons testing.

The probe has expanded to include officers at Malmstrom, Vandenberg, F.E. Warren and Schreiver Air Force bases as well as Royal Air Force Lakenheath in England, home to a U.S. fighter wing, Ashworth said.

News of the investigation emerged on Thursday after the Air Force suspended the security clearances of two missile launch officers in a drug probe at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The base is one of three responsible for the United States' 420 nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Air Force action came as Hagel was at a sister nuclear missile base - F.E. Warren in Cheyenne, Wyoming - preparing to rally troops responsible for maintaining and staffing the launch sites.

Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is home to the Air Forces space and missile testing facilities, and Schreiver in Colorado is home to its Space Warfare Center and Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.

(Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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Comments (3)
Having visited a decommissioned ICBM launch facility and silo (Minute Man Missile National Historic Site is located near Wall, South Dakota) I learned how these facilities actually worked. Many people realize that two officers at the underground launch control site must simultaneously activate the system in order to initiate a launch. What most people don’t understand is that in addition to that action, the actions of the first two missileers must be duplicated almost simultaneously by a second crew at a separate launch facility. The second crew must confirm the actions of the first crew. This second level of confirmation eliminates the chance that a rogue crew could somehow initiate a launch. There are other fail safe procedures as well. While it’s sad that there may be a drug problem in this fine branch of the USAF I would not worry about our USAF Missile Command.

Jan 10, 2014 8:07pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
They are only allowed to take approved amphetamines and barbiturates with (somewhat) predictable psychotic effects. And they’re definitely not allowed to snort or main-line the cargo.

Jan 10, 2014 9:00pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jimlahey wrote:
>air force drug possession article
>420 missiles
>nice reuters

Jan 10, 2014 10:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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