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 »
"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."
"Federal regulators on Thursday delayed a vote on a proposal to reshape the television market by freeing consumers from cable box rentals, putting into doubt a plan that has pitted technology companies against cable television providers. ... The proposal will still be considered for a future vote. But Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C., said commissioners needed more discussions."
"The Supreme Court is taking up a First Amendment clash over the government’s refusal to register offensive trademarks, a case that could affect the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name. The justices agreed Thursday to hear a dispute involving an Asian-American rock band called the Slants, but they did not act on a separate request to hear the higher-profile Redskins case at the same time." Still, any precedent set by the case could have ramifications for the Washington football team.
The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at a little-known intersection of politics and entertainment, in which Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon is still raking in residuals from Seinfeld. Here's the digest version: When Seinfeld was in its infancy, Ted Turner was in the process of acquiring its production company, Castle Rock, but he was under-capitalized. Bannon's fledgling media company put up the remaining funds, and he agreed to "participation rights" instead of a fee. "Seinfeld has reaped more than $3 billion in its post-network afterlife through syndication deals." Meanwhile, Bannon is "still cashing checks from Seinfeld, and observers say he has made nearly 25 times more off the Castle Rock deal than he had anticipated."