Senators are circling back to scandals that have plagued the nuclear forces this year, ahead of an end-of-the-month review deadline ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
In late January, top Air Force officials said 92 officer — nearly half of the intercontinental ballistic missile crew — at the Malmstrom Air Force base either allegedly cheated on a monthly proficiency exam or allegedly knew about the alleged cheating. The alleged cheating was discovered during an investigation into alleged illegal drug use.
And last month, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Navy’s chief of naval operations, said the military branch has launched an investigation into alleged cheating among staff members at its nuclear training school in Charleston, S.C.
“Some of the cheating scandals headlines we’ve seen, some of the other things, what has caused these?” Indiana Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly asked at an Armed Services subcommittee hearing Wednesday.
The hearing also comes in the wake of an Associated Press report that the Air Force Academy is looking into alleged cheating by 40 cadets.
“I keep coming back to 99.5 percent of our airmen are people we’re real proud of, they get it, they understand the importance of our mission,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, the commander for the Air Force Global Strike Command.
And Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said he understands the scandals aren’t representative of the larger forces, adding that officials should emphasize “that we expect a great deal from them, but above all, we must demonstrate that we care about their well-being, their families, and their careers.”
Top defense officials have noted that the nuclear forces are often isolated from the rest of the military and often publicly overlooked. But Wilson acknowledged that military officials have “focused on the culture of perfection, and we know that human beings aren’t perfect.”
His comments echoed those earlier this year by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. The service’s top official said, at the time, that missileers “cheated because they felt driven to get 100 percent,” and called it an unhealthy environment.
And Wilson said the military is “investigating all kinds of alternative methods of how we train, test, and evaluate,” including meeting with families and behavioral psychologists.
Wilson added that three reviews have been launched in the wake of the scandals, aimed at finding and recommending corrections for any systemic problems in the nuclear forces.
What We're Following See More »
First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."
"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."
"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."
"The Trump administration has lost a handful of individuals serving in top cybersecurity roles across the federal government in recent weeks, even as it has struggled to fill high-ranking IT positions. The developments present hurdles for the new administration and speak to the longstanding challenge the federal government faces in competing with the private sector for top tech talent." Among those resigning is Richard Staropoli, "a former U.S. Secret Service agent who served as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Homeland Security for just three months," and Dave DeVries, the CIO at OPM. Separately, the White House announced today that President Trump has directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.