Glowing Again

The 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., has regained its certification to handle nuclear weapons after being stripped of it last year in the wake of a major breech of oversight that led to the transfer of nuclear warheads from the base. Air Combat Command spokesman Maj. Tom Crosson confirmed to the Daily Report April 3 that Gen. John Corley, ACC’s commander, granted the recertification March 31. Crosson said the wing is “free and clear” to perform its nuclear-related activities. He was not aware of any caveats to the wing’s status. The Associated Press reported April 3 that the recertification came after a special weeklong inspection during which inspectors found the unit ready to perform the mission. Another inspection is scheduled for May, according to AP. ACC decertified the wing after a B-52 bomber mistakenly carried six nuclear cruise missile warheads in August 2007 from Minot to Barksdale AFB, La., due to what investigators found to be unacceptably lax oversight by airmen responsible for the weapons. The unit’s then-commander was sacked and about 65 airmen were disciplined. But the incident had even far greater reverberations, causing USAF to revise its procedures for handling nuclear weapons and place a renewed emphasis on the nuclear mission. As an example of the latter, USAF is planning to assign B-52 units solely the nuclear mission during extended periods instead of them having to be on call both for conventional and nuclear roles.