Monday, March 2, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Air Force to launch fixes to nuclear program

By
From page A11 | June 11, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The Air Force is launching an ambitious campaign to repair flaws in its nuclear missile corps, after recent training failures, security missteps, leadership lapses, morale problems and stunning breakdowns in discipline prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to demand action to restore public confidence in the nuclear force.

Air Force leaders are planning to offer bonus pay to missile force members, fill gaps in their ranks, offer a nuclear service medal and put more money into modernizing what in some respects has become a decrepit Minuteman 3 missile force that few airmen want to join and even fewer view as a career-enhancing mission.

The potential impact of these and other planned changes is unclear. They do not appear to address comprehensively what some see as the core issue: a flagging sense of purpose in a force that atrophied after the Cold War ended two decades ago as the military’s focus turned to countering terrorism and other threats.

Even so, some analysts are encouraged by these initial Air Force moves.

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” said Dana Struckman, a retired Air Force officer who commanded a Minuteman 3 missile squadron at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota in 2003-05. “I think it will make a difference.”

Driving this effort is Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, who took over as the service’s top civilian official in December amid a series of embarrassing lapses by the men and women who operate, support and lead the fleet of 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, based in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The missiles are armed with nuclear warheads, ready for launch on short notice any day, any hour.

In January, after visiting a Minuteman 3 base, Hagel declared, “We know that something is wrong.” He ordered a pair of comprehensive reviews to identify what was amiss and to recommend solutions. Both reviews missed their initial deadlines for completion, and Hagel has said little publicly about it in recent months.

The cascade of bad news began in May 2013 when The Associated Press revealed that a group of ICBM launch officers at Minot Air Force Base had been stripped of their authority following a poor inspection result and other problems. The AP also disclosed that the deputy operations commander at Minot had complained in an internal email of “rot” in his ranks — an assessment that aired a range of morale and other behavioral, training, leadership and security problems that later emerged at the ICBM bases in Wyoming and Montana.

In October the two-star general in charge of ICBMs was fired for drunken behavior while on official business in Russia, and in November the AP revealed an unpublished study that found evidence of “burnout” among missile launch officers and cited elevated rates of personal misconduct within the ICBM force.

For months Air Force officials insisted that the morale issues and other problems amounted to nothing more than commonplace gripes and isolated, correctable goofs. James, however, took a different approach.

In January, just weeks after taking office and days after the discovery of an exam-cheating scandal among nearly 100 launch crew members in the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, James declared herself “profoundly disappointed,” and announced that the ICBM force was in need of closer scrutiny. She visited all three ICBM bases and said afterward the problems are “systemic,” not isolated.

“I tip my hat to her for really taking this on,” Struckman said. “She didn’t shy away.”

Also in January, the Air Force disclosed that three ICBM launch officers were among those implicated in a criminal investigation of drug use or possession — a probe that remains active. And in March it announced it was firing nine officers in leadership positions at Malmstrom and one, Col. Donald Holloway, at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, which is headquarters for the organization in charge of the entire ICBM force.

Since then the Air Force has developed and begun publicizing internal changes aimed at fixing what ails the ICBM force, although the two reviews that Hagel ordered in February are not yet complete. It’s unclear how the Air Force’s proposed changes will be squared with whatever recommendations emerge from Hagel’s reviews.

Among the more dramatic and potentially important moves, James has recommended to Hagel that he put a four-star general in charge of the nuclear Air Force, including the ICBM and bomber fleets, thereby elevating its status and clout inside an Air Force more focused on air, space and cyberspace missions. A three-star general is currently running the force. Raising the rank to four stars will require approval by Congress.

Such a move would put the Air Force more in line with the Navy, whose nuclear force is overseen by a four-star officer, Adm. Terry J. Benedict, who has an eight-year tenure and reports directly to the top Navy admiral.

The Air Force also plans to offer extra pay to attract and keep people in the missile fields. It’s an idea that has been kicked around for years but never implemented, to the consternation of many airmen. Newly trained missile launch officers, known as missileers, will get a yearly bonus throughout their tour, according to Lt. Col. John Sheets, an Air Force spokesman. He said the dollar amount is yet to be decided. Current missileers, as well as security force members and others in the missile fields, will get monthly bonuses, he said.

Flaws in the Air Force’s nuclear management have been apparent for years, according to Michelle Spencer, who led a year-long study of the nuclear Air Force and concluded in a report published in January 2012 that numerous attempts since 2008 amounted to “movement without direction.” At its core, she wrote, are questions about the Air Force’s ability to develop, sustain and value nuclear expertise.

“Without answers to these fundamental questions,” she wrote, “the Air Force nuclear enterprise remains on the same trajectory as it has been for the last two decades — in ever-increasing decline.”

Spencer’s study, which was requested and funded by the Air Force, also found that senior Air Force leaders were getting “false or distorted information about the reality on the ground” in the nuclear force. That distortion permitted small problems to grow into big ones and reflected cynicism about the nuclear mission, she wrote.

Spencer said James appears to have made inroads against that problem, “but I’m sure they haven’t solved it.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

World War II spy shares tales of work behind enemy lines

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Whiteside ready to take Travis school board seat

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

I love to ‘read’ audiobooks

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Council to hear budget scenarios

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield High School celebrates black history

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Photos: Warm winter afternoon at Lagoon Valley Park

By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A3, 4 Comments | Gallery

Free medical series targets senior health issues

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Pena Adobe hosts natural dye-making presentation

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
PublicStuff, an online app, set for Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Beginning gardening series starts in March

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Literacy celebration returns this month

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Photos: Vacaville 4-alarm house fire

By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A4, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
IHOP takes part in National Pancake Day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

Local governments schedule meetings this week

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Corner Store Gallery schedules open house

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Weather for Monday, March 2, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

 
Kerry tries to dampen fuss over Israeli PM’s speech

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Hundreds of bills introduced by California lawmakers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
California GOP recognizes gay faction of party

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
Storm brings rain, thunder, hail to Southern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, tricky cable job

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Newspaper: Nurse who survived Ebola says hospital failed her

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Myanmar captures rare white elephant in western jungles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Crowd kills girl suspected to be suicide bomber in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
New plane tracking to be tested after Malaysia jet mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Activists say Islamic State releases 19 Syrian Christians

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Sierra Leone’s vice president in quarantine for Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
30,000 marchers in Moscow mourn slain Putin foe

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

.

Opinion

Your right to work for less

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8, 57 Comments

 
Right fight in DC, but wrong reason

By Colbert I. King | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoon: March 2, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
A night with a King

By Delon Jackson | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 2, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 2, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 3, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Why timeouts only prolong the problem

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

Horoscopes: March 2, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
It’s never a good idea to point out how big a pregnant woman is

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

 
Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ tops box office with $19.1 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Lady Gaga, Vince Vaughn take charity polar plunge in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

TVGrid March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Sports

Lillard, Aldridge lead Blazers past Kings for 3rd in a row

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curry scores 37, leads Warriors from 26 down to beat Celtics

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Jimmie Johnson pulls away for another Atlanta Sprint Cup win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Giants reliever Strickland insists he’s tranquil on mound

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Indians open season with 12-4 win over Falcons

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Oregon beats Stanford 73-70, clinches bye in Pac-12 tourney

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Process gets underway to carve up $60 million Sandusky fine

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cal’s big run lifts Bears past Oregon State 73-56

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former Washington basketball star Christian Welp dies at 51

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sharks trade Sheppard to Rangers for draft pick

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
4,000 attend Jerry Tarkanian tribute in Las Vegas arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Garnett buys 1,000 tickets for fans for next T-wolves game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Poulter, Casey share lead at rain-delayed Honda Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Blatter concerned by Russian soccer racism before World Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broadcasters propose FIFA election debate to Blatter, rivals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Major league baseball’s 1st black Latino star Minoso dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Seller’s market for NHL teams as trade deadline nears

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Andy Sullivan wins Joburg Open for 2nd title this year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
South Korea’s Amy Yang wins Honda LPGA Thailand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hannah hurls Bulldogs to 2-0 win over Campolindo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Oregon women upset No. 19 Stanford 62-55

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for March 2, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez nearing 1st spring game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Fast and furious: Rousey looks to future after 14-second win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

.

Business

Mimi’s adds breakfast items to menu

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Samsung ditches plastic design, adds mobile pay in new phone

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

In Apple’s latest update, emojis get diverse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Obituaries

Jacqueline Mendes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lester Singer

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baby Blues March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C. March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Peanuts March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
For Better or Worse March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Frank and Ernest March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sudoku March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Bridge March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Crossword March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote March 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7