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Air Force Secretary: cheating scandal 'failure of some' Airmen, not the nuclear mission

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James announced Wednesday that 34 Air Force officers were being investigated for cheating on the intercontinental ballistic missile launch officer proficiency test, an incident she said was "a failure of some of our Airmen" and "not a failure of the nuclear mission."

By JC Finley
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Air Force Secretary: cheating scandal 'failure of some' Airmen, not the nuclear mission
United States Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced on January 14, 2014 that 34 Airmen had been implicated in a cheating scandal involving a monthly missile launch officer proficiency test at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. (CC/U.S. Air Force/Jim Varhegyi)

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James announced Wednesday that thirty-four Air Force officers were being investigated for cheating on the intercontinental ballistic missile launch officer proficiency test.

The head of the Air Force asserted that the cheating scandal "was a failure of some of our Airmen; it was not a failure of the nuclear mission."

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As the investigation continues, the 34 ICBM launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana have lost their certification, been removed from missile crew duty, and had their security clearances suspended. The officers' ranks range from second lieutenants to captains.

The cheating, which occurred in August and September, came to light during an illegal drug possession investigation. A missile launch officer with the 341st Missile Wing electronically shared proficiency test answers with sixteen other officers. When Air Force officials questioned the entire 190-member missile crew at Malmstrom Air Force Base, 17 additional officers acknowledged awareness that test materials had been shared.

Two officers involved in the cheating scandal were also involved in illegal drug possession. Secretary James ordered the immediate drug testing of all ICBM force members.

The Air Force uses monthly tests to appraise the ability of their officers to react to various scenarios that include safety issues and launch protocols. The tests are necessary for missile operators' professional advancement.

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[U.S. Air Force] [Wall Street Journal]

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