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bullet point Emails between STRATCOM and the United States Air Force regarding Minot AFB inspection failure.
• View Interim Updates>>
• View Slides>>
• Read Emails
bullet point FOIA Docs exposing root causes of nuclear missileer inspection failure at Minot AFB.
• Read Documents>>
bullet point U.S. Government releases comprehensive list of past safety deficiencies in its nuclear weapon systems.
• Read Documents>>
• U.S. Air Force releases 15 incident reports which further describe significant
safety deficiencies in its nuclear weapons systems
The Emes (TRUTH) Blog contains our thoughts and reactions to documents obtained.
Air Force Responds to FOIA Request in Malmstrom AFB Cheating Scandal, as Base Commander Resigns

May, 2014.
After 34 officers of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana were removed from duty for allegedly cheating on routing proficiency exams, Speaking Truth to Power filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the Department of the Air Force on February 14, 2014. The FOIA request was submitted to determine the full extent and exact nature of the cheating by missileers responsible for the security of the US's land-based ICBM arsenal, the Minuteman III's, which has resulted in the relief from duty of half of the base’s missileers, the firing of 9 commanding officers, and now the resignation of Malmstrom’s senior officer, Col. Robert Stanley, who commanded the 341st Missile Wing. Stanley will be retiring from the Air Force. The Department has now contacted STTP and promised a response in the next month.

The attorney for Speaking Truth to Power and the organization’s founder, Jules Zacher, filed the request with the Air Force Global Strike Command for records including but not limited to: those pertaining to how the cheating was discovered, the extent of the cheating, records regarding the nature of the proficiency exams in question, and records and reports documenting the Air Force’s investigation and actions taken subsequent to the cheating’s discovery.

The January revelations were the consequence of a discovery made from an investigation of alleged drug possession at the base last year, and since the original 34 officers were taken off of launch duty in January, the number of Malmstrom missileers who now face discipline including possible court martial has nearly tripled. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, the Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, said in a press conference at the Pentagon to announce measures the Air Force had taken: “We found no evidence that it existed outside of Malmstrom...If [the investigators] would have found information on a phone that linked to another base, we would have followed that lead. [But] it didn’t lead there.” The allegations against 82 officers have been substantiated, nine are unsubstantiated due to lack of credible evidence, and the Air Force Office of Investigation is still investigating 9 individuals.

Speaking Truth to Power is seeking the Malmstrom records in order to release the information to its website and the press, according to the organization's purpose of informing the public regarding the US's 5000-strong deployed nuclear force.

Regarding the implications of the incident and the importance of the information Speaking Truth to Power wishes to discover, Mr. Zacher stated that "the fact that the cheating was discovered incidentally in an unrelated drug possession probe puts in sharp relief the need for close attention from the public and the diligent use of litigation to fully elucidate failures in the 341st's prudent custody of weapons of mass destruction."

Air Force Trained Nuclear Missileers Using Unproctored Exams And “Group Testing”

[Background: In March 2013, the 91st Missile Wing was inspected and received a “marginal” rating on Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) operations, the unit’s lowest rating received in the inspection and the equivalent of a “D.” As a result of the failure, 19 ICBM officers were suspended in April 2013. In an effort to find out the specifics of the inspection failure and the results of any subsequent reviews or analyses done, STTP submitted a FOIA request in May 2013 and, being unsuccessful, started a civil action in November 2013.]

In February 2014, STTP finally received the first round of documents from STRATCOM and the United States Air Force regarding the inspection failure of nuclear missileers at Minot Air Force Base (see Speaking Truth to Power v. United States Strategic Command, et al). These documents being incomplete and insufficient, STTP pushed back for more.

The second round of documents, linked below, include a slide show by the AF Global Strike Command entitled “91 MW ICBM Ops AFSO Event” from May 16th to 19th, 2013. This document lays out the four identified “Root Causes” for why the unit’s technical proficiency was substandard: Inadequate Training, Measurement Tools Not Properly Implemented, Lack of Leadership, and Insufficient Leadership Manning. Of particular concern are some of the reasons in the second category: the training exams were not proctored, and “group testing” was viewed by the unit as “taking care of each other.” In other words, testing was a collaborative process. The necessity of good teamwork skills aside, the statement reeks of cheating and unaccountability. Listed within the third root cause category is the statement that a “culture of toleration” allowed for “unprofessional and non-compliant behaviors.” Towards the end of the briefing is the statement that “The ICBM mission is of critical importance to the Nation and we need qualified, proficient and motivated personnel to perform this duty.” Yes, we sure do.

The stated reasons for the failures were punctuated by an analysis of their severity. A slideshow entitled “GSC Data Analysis” of May 15, 2013 highlights that the 91st Missile Wing had twice the errors of the 341st. Not only that, but test scores continued to drop after the CUI inspection failure. In the two months following the inspection (April and May 2013) the number of classroom errors doubled from those of the previous ten months combined (from May 2012 to March 2013). Between March and May 2013, test scores dropped from 97-100 to a score of 94-95. Could a crack-down after the failure have resulted in exposing even more weaknesses?

The new documents from the Air Force also include a "Root Cause Report" and Operations Assessment by Task Force 214 done from September 4-7, 2013. STRATCOM additionally provided 25 pages are print-outs of e-mails between STRATCOM and the AF from May, June, and July 2013.

The inspection failure of last year falls within a string of recent mishaps by the folks that man our nuclear arms, including blatant cheating on proficiency exams at the Malmstrom Air Force Base, officer drug use, and a survey conducted by RAND which exposed low morale amongst missileers. Given that we are in a situation where our military has the capability of annihilating mankind, the importance of a safe nuclear arsenal cannot be overstated. And given the numerous close calls putting us at peril, the reality of a safe nuclear arsenal has proven unobtainable.

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• Cooks Saved Nuke Missile Crews From Test Failure. 3/13/14, go to page>>
• Public policy group seeks nuclear records release through FOIA suit. 2/28/14: go to page >>
• Info Demanded on Turmoil at U.S. Missile Base. 11/19/13: go to page>>
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