The United States currently has 4,804 nuclear warheads, 450 of which are located on Air Force bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. These 450 Minuteman 3 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (icbms) are supposedly in constant battle-ready mode.Worryingly, the equipment used to secure these missiles was built in the 1960s. The bases are still using computers that require eight-inch floppy disks. As one missileer stated, she had not seen such “technology” until she started working in the command center. One would think the world’s superpower would use the latest state-of-the-art technology to safeguard its deadliest weapons.
However, it is not the shrinking army and its lack of up-to-date technology that should worry the American public the most, but the sketchy personnel in charge.
In 2013, the Air Force relieved the two-star general in command of the 450 icbms. The general was suspended for “exceeding the limits of accepted standards of good conduct and proper behavior” while on an official trip to Moscow. He reportedly drunk during the four-day trip. Earlier in the week, a vice admiral who oversaw the military’s nuclear forces, missile defense and cyber warfare operations was also relieved of his duties because of a probe into his possible use of counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino.
“We are, in fact, in a crisis right now,” Lt. Col. Jay Folds wrote in an email to his subordinates after receiving the results of the inspection. He said there was “rot” amongst the ranks.
The firing of these missileers was not an isolated incident. Missileers take regular tests to ensure they understand the systems they have been entrusted with operating. To pass these tests, an individual must score higher than 90 percent. In January, bbc reported that 34 officers at the Montana Air Force Base either cheated on their tests or knew others who did and did not report it. Some members were caught texting answers to fellow officers.
How safe do you feel knowing your country’s nuclear missile operators cannot get 90 percent on their tests without cheating?
Missileers were also caught violating safety guidelines. A maintenance member reported a blast door was left open while one of the crew members was sleeping. According to procedure, if a member is resting, the blast door must be closed. If the door is left open, the security of the missile and the crew is compromised. This can lead to the potential capturing of security codes by outsiders.
If the missiles here in the U.S. are vulnerable, how secure is its nuclear weaponry in Europe?
“According to a Blue Ribbon Review set up by the U.S. Air Force in 2008, most U.S. nuclear weapons storage sites in Europe do not meet U.S. Defense Department security standards,” Tom Sauer and Bob van der Zwaan wrote in a May 2011 report for the Harvard Kennedy School.
The Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium is one of the bases that hosts America’s tactical nuclear weapons. In 2010, the base was penetrated by peace activists. The activists climbed the perimeter fence and wandered around the base for more than an hour, videotaping their escapade. When they were finally caught, base security didn’t even confiscate the videotape.
Full article: America: Nuclear Missiles Battle-Ready? (The Trumpet)