Worn-Out Infrastructure Seen Contributing to Low Missileer Morale

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Global Security Newswire Staff
July 8, 2014, 8:06 a.m.

De­grad­ing in­fra­struc­ture at U.S. nuc­le­ar mis­sile bases is thought to have neg­at­ively im­pacted the mor­ale of air­men, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

While the na­tion’s ar­sen­al of dec­ades-old Minute­man 3 bal­list­ic mis­siles is care­fully main­tained to en­sure the weapons will fire prop­erly when de­sired, much less at­ten­tion and care has gone in­to keep­ing up the in­fra­struc­ture that young Air Force per­son­nel rely on to carry out their nuc­le­ar mis­sion, the news agency re­por­ted in a Tues­day art­icle.

The Air Force has ac­know­ledged that much of its stra­tegic mis­sile in­fra­struc­ture, such as un­der­ground launch-con­trol cen­ters and liv­ing quar­ters, is badly in need of a facelift or, in the case of a fleet of emer­gency heli­copters, an all-out re­place­ment.

At the same time, the Air Force says its op­er­a­tion­al re­spons­ib­il­ity for U.S. in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­siles is one of its most im­port­ant mis­sions. The air­men as­signed to the care of nuc­le­ar mis­siles, though, have ob­served for years an ap­par­ent dis­con­nect between what the ser­vice says about the mis­sion and the re­sources it throws its way, ac­cord­ing to AP.

Ex-Con­gres­sion­al Re­search Ser­vice de­fense spe­cial­ist Robert Goldich said the Air Force’s nuc­le­ar mis­sion has been at “the short end of the stick” in terms of as­signed staff and budget.

“I hon­estly don’t think it’s much more com­plic­ated than that,” Goldich told AP. “When that happened, people lost sight of how in­cred­ibly rig­or­ous you’ve got to be to en­sure qual­ity con­trol when nuc­le­ar weapons are in­volved.”

Low mor­ale has been blamed by Air Force brass on a num­ber of re­cent scan­dals in the nuc­le­ar mis­sileer corps. Re­cent in­cid­ents that have em­bar­rassed the ser­vice in­clude the dis­cov­ery of a test-cheat­ing ring at a base in Montana, al­leg­a­tions of drug pos­ses­sion by some mis­sile-launch of­ficers, and oc­ca­sion­al fail­ures by mis­sileers to fol­low all se­cur­ity rules.

“One of the reas­ons for the low mor­ale is that the nuc­le­ar forces feel un­im­port­ant, and they are of­ten treated as such, very openly,” said Michelle Spen­cer, who pre­vi­ously worked as a nuc­le­ar weapons con­sult­ant for the Air Force.

An in­de­pend­ent ad­vis­ory pan­el in a 2013 study sub­mit­ted to the De­fense De­part­ment said the ser­vice needed to demon­strate a “be­liev­able com­mit­ment” to up­dat­ing its nuc­le­ar mis­sile force.

“If the prac­tice con­tin­ues to be to de­mand that the troops com­pensate for man­power and skill short­falls, op­er­ate in in­feri­or fa­cil­it­ies and per­form with fail­ing sup­port equip­ment, there is a high risk of fail­ure,” the re­port stated.

The Air Force has re­spon­ded to the re­cent scan­dals by an­noun­cing it will pro­tect thou­sands of jobs in its nuc­le­ar mis­sion from job cuts that are im­pact­ing oth­er parts of the mil­it­ary, cre­ate a new mid-level man­ager po­s­i­tion to bet­ter trans­late com­mand or­ders to nuc­le­ar per­son­nel, seek an el­ev­a­tion in rank for the head of its Glob­al Strike Com­mand, and au­thor­ize bo­nus pay for some mis­sile spe­cial­ists.

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
13 hours ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
14 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

PRESIDENT CALLS MEDICAID FUNDS A “BAILOUT”
Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Source:
POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
1 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login