The nuclear control officers assigned to the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., who have not been implicated in the cheating scandal, are going to have to work overtime, at least for the time being, senior Air Force leaders said Thursday. Missileers typically work eight alert shifts each month, often braving brutal weather conditions for extended periods of time (On Thursday, for example, it was -31 degrees at Minot AFB, N.D., and -15 degrees at Malmstrom). However, Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said each crew member now will have to stand alert 10 times per month. In addition, the Air Force has pulled some staff members from the 20th Air Force and put them back in operational billets at Malmstrom to help fill the gap after 92 missileers were decertified for allegedly cheating on a nuclear proficiency exam. Both Wilson and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the USAF may have to pull some missileers from Minot and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., to further augment the force at Malmstrom. In addition, Wilson said the Air Force is considering diverting brand new missileers to Malmstrom, rather than spreading them out to the three ICBM bases after graduation. “We have contingency plans in place in case something goes wrong…and we are implementing those as we speak,” said Wilson, who emphasized that there have been no negative impacts on operations.
These are the complete remarks by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Dec. 3, 2022, in Simi Valley, Calif.