U.S. military failed ‘lost nukes’ test

May 23, 2014 03:12 am | Updated November 16, 2021 07:47 pm IST - WASHINGTON

U.S. military forces charged with operating nuclear weapons failed to recapture a “stolen” nuclear missile in a simulated drill, according to the latest revelation in the cheating-cum-incompetence scandal that engulfed the Pentagon’s >Global Strike Command last year.

According to the Associated Press , which obtained the confidential review results through a Freedom of Information Act request, the previously unreported failure, which the Air Force called a “critical deficiency”, was the reason the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana flunked its broader safety and security inspection.

The training drill aimed to simulate an “Empty Quiver” situation that could in theory arise from a terror strike, entailing the capture of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile silo.

The outcome of the review to examine why the security force showed an inability to effectively respond to a recapture scenario cited their failure to take “all lawful actions necessary to immediately regain control of nuclear weapons,” but did not specify those actions.

Earlier this year U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel called for a broad review of the country’s nuclear force, with a focus on personnel and culture, after 34 members of the of the Global Strike Command’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile team were suspended from duty on January 15 for cheating on a proficiency test.

An unrelated drug-use investigation at six different Air Force bases led to the uncovering of the cheating scandal at Malmstrom, where it was discovered that a missile launch officer had “shared answers to a routine proficiency test with at least 16 other officers.”

Additionally last year several top commanders and other staff charged with managing the country’s nuclear stockpile were fired for incompetence, including Maj. Gen. Michael Carey a two-star General responsible for three wings of ICBMs including 450 missiles at three bases across the country.

The firing of General Carey “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment” came days after the U.S. Navy fired Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the second-in-command at U.S. Strategic Command, which writes the military’s nuclear war plans and would transmit launch orders should the nation ever go to nuclear war.

According to reports the deputy commander of U.S. nuclear forces was removed from his post after being investigated for “using counterfeit chips at a casino.

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