Report: Air Force Nuclear Cheating Ring Doubles in Size

siloThe Associated Press’ Robert Burns is reporting that the size of the cheating scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., has doubled from the 34 missile officers initially accused.

The Air Force had launched an investigation to see how wide the cheating scandal might have spread to include the other two Air Force bases where the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile force is located. As recently as last week, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James had said the service had not found evidence that the cheating ring expanded outside the initial 34.

It’s unclear what role in the cheating scandal these additional missile officers may have played. Of the first 34, 17  are accused of directly cheating on the monthly proficiency test given to missile officers. The other 17 knew about the cheating, but failed to report it. One of the missile officers texted the correct answers to the test to the rest of the group.

It’s also unclear from Burns’ report where the additional missileers are stationed. The other nuclear ICBM bases are F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Air Force leaders discovered the cheating ring during an investigation of drug use by two of the missile officers involved in it.

Burns cited an anonymous official within his report in which he says more than 30 more airmen have been connected to the cheating scandal.

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a wide ranging investigation into the entire nuclear mission. And then on Friday, he said during a press conference in the Pentagon that he has questions over the ability of the Air Force to oversee the nuclear mission.

“Recent allegations regarding our ICBM force raise legitimate questions about this Department’s stewardship of one of our most sensitive and important missions,” Hagel said.

In November, the chief of Air Force public affairs, Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, wrote an editorial questioning Burns’ credibility and over blowing the problems in his reports.

We’ll continue to follow this and provide more details as they become available.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Robert

    Nothing new members of congress have been cheating the American people for years.

    • Musson

      If only the missile officers had somewhere quiet they could be alone and study.

  • d. kellogg

    Some serious issues here, considering that, ~supposedly~ each service has annual ethic requirements its servicemembers must take.

    But, as mentioned, when the leadership of the very country they serve obviously steers by a broken compass, it really isn’t surprising that we don’t hear of morality failures and ethics breaches more often.

    Blueprint for the nation, really?

  • kuzinov

    Yeah, it’s the politicians’ fault. I think it would be more interesting and productive to study the psychology of people working with nuclear weapons, post Cold War. I’m pretty sure the pressure of working with nuclear weapons, that almost certainly will not be used, and if they ever are, it means the End of the World, is making them a bit weird. The news stories from recent times seems to back this up.Hopefully, Hagel can snap them out of complacency.

    • Anchor

      Hagle couldn’t lead a silent prayer. Keep dreaming.

  • Lance

    SO what if someone new some one cheated if they on there own passed they passed. get over it you Pentagon buffoons.

    • Retired_MP

      You have no concept of honor or the dangers of letting a co-worker perform a sensitive mission they may not be qualified to do if they need to cheat in the first place.

  • face

    Perhaps if the Air Force would take a little time and see if the officers currently assigned to missile defense are in fact qualified to perform their duties. HAs this been done or have the officers assigned washed out from say pilot training programs. Computer Science programs. Security programs. It is a sad day a very sad day that out nation entrusts its survival to officers who cannot comprehend the ideas of the job they are to perform. Mr. Gates do the nation a favor and replace these inept officers not with desk jobs but with discharge orders. The fate of the United States might just depend upon it.

    • Steve B.

      Gates is retired. He wrote a book.

      Hagel is the SecDef.

    • ImaBrit

      The fate of a lot of other countries might depend on it as well!

  • Robert

    Very good view points. Thank you.

  • Steve B.

    I think they are still applying SAC/LeMay type fitness testing to a completely changed environment and world order.

    These officers are not stupid, they couldn’t be to get into this assignment, so they are fully aware of the unlikelihood of the weapons they are charged with operating getting used, which is a completely different work environment then existed 25 years ago. Seems the AF has failed these officers by applying unrealistic work conditions and requirements without developing methods to keep these folks motivated and focused on the mission, which is still important. Thus a top down review of the mission and how to train officers and crew to perform them is needed.

    I can only wonder what the Russians are dealing with !.

    • Steve B.

      Perhaps a look at how the USN deals with training and motivating the boomer crews would be in order. Possibly the very same problems exist.

      • platypusfriend

        Former Trident sailor here (we don’t say “boomer” anymore). When I was in, I saw this occasionally, but not on an organized scale. You are right about the “fully aware of the unlikelihood of the weapons they are charged with operating getting used, which is a completely different work environment then existed 25 years ago” part, and that is something that needs to be addressed in the Air Force and Navy.

        But no, it wasn’t this bad in the Navy. Other things may have been just as bad, but not cheating; actually, most of us were pretty knowledgable.

      • Dave

        I go along with you Steve.

  • mpower6428

    ONWARD CHRISTIAN BROTHERS. and… as per usual, our flagship theocratic service is finding all new ways to disgrace itself.

    ” KP if you don’t attend services “. all those “real men” who decided to take a stand don’t find it nearly as funny as the “good Christians” who didn’t get caught, of this I can assure you.

  • Jeff Fortner

    Bring back the draft for officers and remember the other then honorable discharge for these so called officers !!!!

  • Former Missiles

    If you haven’t lived a missileers life for 4+ years, you shouldn’t be able to say anything about it. There are all sorts of things you people don’t understand. I’m tired of the media always talkin’ crap about things they know NOTHING about - and most of the time when they do talk about it they are WAY behind the times.

    So get a life and leave it alone, deal? Thanks.

    • anonymous

      6+ years, here. You’re a dirtbag.

      • Former Missiles

        Im not condoning cheating. So, thats for that dirtbag comment.

        But are you not tired of all the shenanigans coming at all of the missileers who ARENT doing anything wrong - but they’re still getting their teeth kicked in for it?

        • anonymous

          What? We’ve all done something wrong. Not all of us get caught. Some of us tend to not do wrong, but we’ve all done wrong.

  • mrlee

    Let’s face it, the Air Force lives a pampered life, and when anyone else would ask for a Band-Aid, they want a Purple Heart. And don’t say that I am out of line. In Vietnam, the Marine compound was right next to an Air Force set up. We Marines slept in huts that would float away in any good rain, and had to walk a ways to get to the plumbing for showers, and we burned our floaters and pumped our urine to be sent some place else. Our mess hall was screened in and we ate off of metal trays, while the Air Force, next door ate in an air conditioned hall, on plates, that were bussed for them. Their lodgings were two story barracks with indoor heads. They didn’t even issue them fire arms to carry with them at all times, while we were getting shot at all of the time. Does that sound like the Air Force has the hard life?

    • Ms. Thing

      Sounds to me like you’re annoyed that you joined the wrong service!

      • USAF

        Sounds like a whining little B#### to me!

    • UAVGeek

      Have you been to a forward operating base lately? Lots of USAF people there and they live in the same conditions as everyone else. It ain’t your daddy’s (or likely yours) military.

  • Joe Boyum

    Time to shut em down. They have no mission. Use the saving to fund the next SSBN. Build 40 of em. And have that be that.

    • Old Chief

      Right on,Joe. Having served on a SSBN,I can ascertain their deterence capabilty.Their stealthiness means they are very unlikely to be detected,unlike a missle silo. As for their effectiveness look up “Operation Dominic …Frigate Bird”. I was the helmsman that day May 6 1961. DBF!!

  • Jared

    Me. Hoffman,

    Your picture accompanying your story depicts missile maintenance technicians working. These technicians are NOT the same as missile operations officers. Please do more research next time you write a story and use a picture of the people you are talkin about. My maintainers in no way deserve to be associated with this cheating scandal.

  • Ronnie Pond

    And just what jerk thought it was ok are right to publish the locations of our missile defence silos. who’s business is it anyway.the general public. they didn’t need to know and I doubt that they even cared. so who do you work for .some other government.probable a hostile nation to us are you are just trying to make a point and get accolades. well I hope you get them A$$ *ole. you could have put our silos on the grid. more than likely not. They are probably well known. but they don’t need your help either. so butt out.

    • Steve B.

      These things are visible on Google, so who are we hiding it from ?, not the Russians or Chinese, they’ve known the locations since the silo’s and command facilities were built in the 60’s. Terrorists ?, the info has been out there for decades so it’s completely a moot point.

    • shawn1999

      I’ve known about these places since I was in high school (even visited a decommed one near Davis-Monthan AFB when I was in Jr High). I am sure we have more that are much more secret (and camouflaged from satellite surveillance). Not to mention in a MAD war, they would make great decoys while more secretive locations additional time to launch before getting hit. You are also assuming our Idiots-In-Office (like Congress, WH) haven’t already given those locations out to the Chinese through their incompetence when it comes to following simple IT Security protocols (who probably grabbed them from Congress when they grabbed details of our top 25-30 secret projects)….

  • Mark

    By Cheating the article means Adultery? Why would one spouse choose adultery over keeping their vows? God ment marrige to last for a life time. Sex is only under God’s blessing within a first marraige lest a spouse cheats freeing the one who did not cheat. So this is most definately a requirement for the officers who run these silos. If he is so low of character that he would cheat on the most important vow he ever takes what will get in his way when the lesser temptaion comes to corrupt his judgement that can cost the lives of hundreds of thousands within the silos?

    • Steve B.

      Is it still adultery if the crews are going “outside the fence” as it were, to have at it with the cows and sheep ?. That’s about the only thing alive and available in some of these places.

    • Retired_MP

      The cheating refers to competency tests given on an annual or quarterly basis.

    • Guest

      Shees!! What rock do you live under?Can’t read/understand text?

  • USAF

    I am not surprised about US Air Force Officers Cheating and I am sure if the IG does it’s job by the books they will find that I this ring is greater than expected. Sad thing about it, Officers in question will not be punished as severely if interest to be SNCO’s or NCO’s in a similar situation.

  • mike

    You know we get these reports from a PRESS that wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them on the Butt. They sure want to condemn quickly; but they have nothing to say about one of , theirs when they will not print the truth about Bengasi. Love it, just love it. . .

  • mike

    Sorry I misspelled Benghazi….must be product of California schools.

  • shawn1999

    What the hell ever happened to “I will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate anyone who does”? (in regards to the original 34- I have no idea if the additional 34 reported by the AP is correct or not… AP can’t tell the difference between their heads and holes in the wall…)

    • UAVGeek

      I remember that from ROTC and I also remember it was enforced fairly selectively. The message I took away as an Enlisted man is, Everyone is equal but some people are more equal than others.

      Frankly if you can’t be bothered to the right thing for something as a written test I don’t want you in uniform.

  • prepper forum

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