WASHINGTON — Armed security forces at a nuclear missile base failed a drill last summer that simulated the hostile takeover of a missile launch silo because they were unable to speedily regain control of the captured nuclear weapon, according to an internal Air Force review obtained by the Associated Press.
The previously unreported failure, which the Air Force called a “critical deficiency,” was the reason the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana flunked its broader safety and security inspection.
The security team was required to respond to the simulated capture of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile silo, termed an “Empty Quiver” scenario in which a nuclear weapon is lost, stolen or seized. Each of the Air Force’s 450 Minuteman 3 silos contains one missile armed with a nuclear warhead and ready for launch on orders from the president. Continue reading