Air Force Cheating Scandal Widens

But Defense officials believe the cheating happened at only one of the Air Force’s ICBM bases.

National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
Jan. 29, 2014, 3:18 a.m.

The num­ber of nuc­le­ar mis­sile crew mem­bers ac­cused of cheat­ing has ap­prox­im­ately doubled, Pentagon of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

Air Force Sec­ret­ary De­borah Lee James an­nounced Jan. 15 that 34 of­ficers at the Air Force nuc­le­ar mis­sile base in Montana are ac­cused of cheat­ing on a monthly pro­fi­ciency ex­am. Six­teen of the 34 cheated, she said, while an­oth­er 17 came for­ward and said they knew about the test an­swers be­ing shared via text mes­sage.

An of­fi­cial told the As­so­ci­ated Press that it is un­clear wheth­er the ad­di­tion­al of­ficers par­ti­cip­ated in the cheat­ing dir­ectly or are sus­pec­ted of hav­ing know­ledge of it.

With Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment, about 70 of­ficers are now linked to the in­vest­ig­a­tion, which is on­go­ing. Like the 34 of­ficers im­plic­ated earli­er this month, the ad­di­tion­al 36 of­ficers are be­ing tem­por­ar­ily re­moved from duty while the in­vest­ig­a­tion con­tin­ues. Of­fi­cials be­lieve the cheat­ing took place around Au­gust or Septem­ber, and they don’t think it has spread to the oth­er two nuc­le­ar bases.

The scan­dal is the latest in an in­creas­ingly battered nuc­le­ar-mis­sile force. News of sus­pec­ted il­leg­al drug use broke earli­er this month around the same time that De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel vis­ited one of the three in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic-mis­sile bases.

Re­fer­ring to the cheat­ing scan­dal Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said he doesn’t know “of any in­cid­ent” that de­cer­ti­fied so many of­ficers at once.


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.