Troubled Air Force Base Failed Nuke Drill
Security forces couldn't recapture nuke quickly enough
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2014 7:02 AM CDT
Air Force officers are shown riding in a work cage on Nov. 20, 2012, inside the T-9 maintenance trainer at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.   (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Beau Wade)

(Newser) – Um, whoops? The Air Force failed a drill at a nuclear missile base last summer, according to a previously unreleased internal review obtained by the AP. Armed forces at the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana simulated a hostile takeover of a missile launch silo, but could not regain control of the captured nuke quickly enough. The failure (or, as the Air Force called it, "critical deficiency") is the reason the 341st Wing failed a safety inspection in August. The inspection was repeated two months later, and no security weaknesses were found.

It's not clear exactly what went wrong; the review says the security force did not take "all lawful actions necessary to immediately regain control of nuclear weapons," but does not say what those actions are. It also cites poor training and unspecified problems with "leadership culture" throughout the nuclear missile corps. The revelation is just the latest in a string of embarrassing problems with the corps revealed over the past year—and Malmstrom, of course, is the same base where nuke guards were caught napping with the blast door open, two launch officers were tied to a narcotics probe, and 34 officers cheated on an exam. Two nuclear reviews ordered by Chuck Hagel are currently under way.
 

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