Leaving the Door Open to More Scrutiny

On two occasions this year, Minuteman III launch control officers violated Air Force safety rules by deliberately leaving the blast door to their launch control center open while one of the two crewmembers inside the center slept, reported the Associated Press on Tuesday. The first case happened at Minot AFB, N.D., in April; the second incident occurred in May at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., according to the wire service’s Oct. 22 report. In each case, the Air Force meted out administrative punishment to the launch crew commander and deputy commander, stated AP. While the Air Force instruction on ICBM weapon safety allows for one crewmember at a time to nap on duty in the LCC, it states that both crewmembers must be awake if the center’s blast door is open, according to AP. This is to prevent someone from gaining unauthorized access to the center. “This is not a training problem. This is some people out there are having a problem with discipline,” Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, told AP. The security of the crews’ Minuteman missiles was not compromised in either case, according to the report.