Sleeping Air Force Members Latest Trouble for the Service

July 25, 2008 11:57 AM
by Josh Katz
In the most recent Air Force blunder, three crew members fell asleep with classified missile launch code devices, the Air Force revealed on Thursday.

30-Second Summary

The Air Force asserts that the codes were outdated and deactivated, so no breach in security occurred when the crew members fell asleep on July 12 at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. “This was just a procedural violation that we investigated,” said Air Force Col. Dewey Ford. “We determined that there was no compromise.”

But Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said “The new Air Force leadership, when confirmed, must take decisive and urgent steps to restore the culture of respect that our strategic weapons deserve and our national security demands.”

The Air Force has experienced a string of recent mistakes and oversight failures. Last August, the leadership came under fire for an incident also stemming from Minot, in which the service accidentally flew nuclear-armed cruise missiles across the United States, which were then left unmonitored. In March, news surfaced that the Air Force had mistakenly shipped classified, nuclear materials to Taiwan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked for the resignations of two top Air Force officials on June 5, allegedly in response to the blunders. But analysts suggest that the firings may have as much to do with ideological differences between Gates and the Air Force leadership as with the service’s errors. Gates has stressed his desire to prepare the armed forces more for “small, ‘asymmetric’ wars—wars in which the Air Force takes a back seat to ground forces,” the Wired Danger Room blog writes.

Headline Link: ‘Air Force Missile Launch Crew Fell Asleep’

Background: Recent Air Force mistakes

Opinion & Analysis: The future of the Air Force

Related Topic: Possible reorganization in the service


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