Air Force Col. Robert Stanley, who commands a scandal-rocked nuclear-missile wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., is stepping down on Thursday, Global Security Newswire has learned.
The news comes just as his service prepares to announce the results of an Air Force Global Strike Command investigation into allegations that nearly 100 nuclear-missile launch officers at the Montana base — and possibly elsewhere, as well — engaged in a cheating ring on job-performance exams. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James was expected to be joined by the commander of the Louisiana-based nuclear headquarters — which oversees nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile and bomber aircraft units — at an afternoon press briefing.
In an email obtained by GSN, Stanley implored his 341st Missile Wing — which controls one-third of the nation’s 450 Minuteman 3 land-based, nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles — to hold themselves to higher ethical standards. The colonel has maintained that he was unaware of the test-cheating until a military investigator discovered it. He laments in Thursday’s message that not a single airman had called to leadership attention illicit proficiency-exam practices that had apparently become commonplace.
“The lesson? Had just one solitary airman spoken up for integrity, our leadership team would have been able to take action immediately,” Stanley wrote. “Tragically, peer pressure and the fear of being an outcast prevailed.”
He called the incident “a wake-up call for everyone who has lost their sense of right and wrong, for those who have become cynical, and for those indoctrinated by modern society to acquiesce when faced with bad behavior.”
Stanley said he had volunteered his immediate resignation from the wing commander post and his retirement from the military, both of which were accepted.
“I represent this wing to the world, and we let the American people down on my watch,” the colonel wrote.
He attributed the errors specifically, though, to “the extraordinarily selfish actions of officers entrusted with the most powerful weapon system ever devised by man.
“As you are now learning,” he added, “the ramifications are dire. Many lives will be permanently changed as a result.”
Some current and former Air Force officials have suggested that an expectation of 100 percent scores on monthly readiness tests may have contributed to pressure some personnel felt to share answers.
The scandal also included separate revelations about drug possession among a number of Air Force Global Strike Command personnel.
Meanwhile, a two-star Air Force general who the led service’s nuclear-missiles operations was fired recently after he allegedly drank heavily and acted inappropriately during an official visit to Russia last July.
The Air Force investigation reportedly contains some 400 findings, and could result in as many as two senior leaders being disciplined, Breaking Defense reported on Thursday. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also has commissioned an independent assessment of ethics across the entire nuclear branch following the various revelations of wrongdoing.
What We're Following See More »
"The United States is preparing to shelter as many as 20,000 migrant children on four American military bases" in Texas and Arkansas, "as federal officials struggled to carry out President Trump’s order to keep immigrant families together after they are apprehended at the border."
"House Republican leaders are further delaying a vote on a compromise immigration bill, planning to make changes to the legislation for a vote next week. The news comes after a two-hour Republican Conference meeting Thursday, in which authors of the bill walked through its contents and members raised concerns about issues the bill doesn’t address, multiple GOP lawmakers said. Many members requested the addition of a provision to require employers to use the E-Verify database to cheek the legal status of their employees."
After a conservative-backed immigration bill failed in the House, 193-231, leaders "postponed a vote on a 'compromise' immigration proposal until Friday. ... GOP leaders, however, are under no impression that they'll be able to secure the 218 votes needed in the next 24 hours to pass the text. Rather, the delay is to give members more time to read the bill."