WASHINGTON Jan 10 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
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)