Roughly one-third of the nuclear-missile officers who were implicated in a test-cheating scandal at a Montana base are now back in training.
20th Air Force head Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein told the Great Falls Tribune that each of the 91 so-called “missileers” implicated in the cheating probe were assessed by their squadron heads to decide whether they should be permitted to resume training again. Not all of the airmen actively participated in the test-cheating; some knew of the misconduct but failed to report it.
“The commander believes they should have another chance to show they have integrity,” said Weinstein, whose division oversee’s all Air Force land-based Minuteman 3 missiles.
Malmstrom Air Force Base officials uncovered a large-scale cheating operation on routine certification exams last year during a separate drug possession investigation at the Montana installation. The ensuing probe by the Air Force led to a number of announced reforms in the management of the nuclear-missile officer corps, including in the way they are graded on their proficiency tests. The Air Force also fired nine mid-level officers at Malmstrom for failing to adequately supervise the junior officers involved in the cheating.
Weinstein said other planned reforms are aimed at smoothing out the way the intercontinental ballistic missile force interacts with other Air Force branches.
The major general said many of the morale issues within the missileer ranks can be “totally related to the way we were micro-managing them.”
The Air Force has also authorized a number of budget expenditures aimed at improving the quality of life of the young Malmstrom missile officers who must spend lonely, 24-hour-long shifts beneath the ground manning the Minuteman 3 launch stations. Among the improvements include new kitchen appliances, better exercise equipment and new lockers, beds and computer chairs at the launch stations.