92 Missileers Implicated in Cheating Scandal

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said 92 missile launch officers assigned to Malmstrom AFB, Mont., have been implicated in an investigation of cheating on a monthly nuclear proficiency exam. All 92 missileers have temporarily been decertified pending the outcome of the investigation—that’s almost half of the Malmstrom-based missileer force and nearly three times that of the 34 initially implicated. Of those 92, roughly 40 are suspected of actually cheating. The rest likely knew of the cheating and did not report it, said Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, who briefed the Pentagon press corps alongside James Thursday. Air Force nuclear launch officers must receive a score of 90 percent or higher to pass nuclear exams, but Air Force leaders said most missileers feel they must score 100 percent each time. “I believe that a very terrible irony in this whole situation is that these missileers didn’t cheat to pass, they cheated because they felt driven to get 100 percent, getting 90 percent or 95 percent was considered a failure in their eyes,” said James. Some 500 nuclear launch officers at all three Air Force ICBM bases retook the test after the cheating allegations surfaced; 22 failed. Wilson said those officers will be retrained and given the chance to retake the test. The average score was 95.5 percent, officials said. (See also A Systemic Problem)