U.S. Air Force yanks nuclear clearances after cheating on exam found

WASHINGTON Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:51pm EST

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh (R) testifies about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in this file photo taken June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh (R) testifies about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in this file photo taken June 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Air Force said on Wednesday it had pulled the security clearance of 34 officers and is re-testing the entire force overseeing America's nuclear-armed missiles after uncovering cheating on a key proficiency exam.

The incident was the largest single case of cheating in America's nuclear missile force in memory and took place at Malmstrom Air Force Base, one of three bases responsible for the United States' 420 nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Malmstrom is located in Montana.

General Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, said the incident involved cheating on a monthly missile launch officer proficiency exam last year. He was unaware of any other incidents, although an investigation is ongoing.

"There was cheating that took place with respect to this particular test. Some officers did it. Others apparently knew about it, and it appears that they did nothing, or at least not enough, to stop it or to report it," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at a news conference.

Welsh told the news conference that the answers had been shared by text message.

James added that she had full confidence in the security of America's nuclear missile force.

The cheating scandal is only the latest embarrassment for the U.S. nuclear missile force and the Air Force. Last week, the Air Force revealed that 10 Air Force officers at six bases were being investigated for alleged illegal drug possession, including three from the ICBM force.

Air Force Major General Michael Carey was fired as head of America's ICBM force in October for getting drunk and carousing with women while leading a government delegation to Moscow for talks on nuclear security.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Missy Ryan; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Comments (4)
DAwGi wrote:
As someone who has gotten drunk at a company event and hit on women, I feel the Major’s pain.

Jan 15, 2014 4:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Big2Tex wrote:
Suppose the officers in charge of nuclear missiles cheated on the World Geography section? Uh oh.

1st Officer: “Where did they say these missiles were to be targeted?”
2nd Officer: “Tim Buk Tu. I think that is near Cleveland”
1st Officer: “OK. Here goes. Missile 1, fire in the hole.”

Jan 15, 2014 5:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
hawkeye19 wrote:
They learned their ethics and morality in godless liberal school systems from godless liberal teachers. It’s been going on for decades now. You reap what you sow, America.

Jan 15, 2014 7:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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