Air Force Relieves, Disciplines Officers in Cheating Scandal

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–March 27, 2014 – The Air Force has relieved nine officers, allowed a commander to retire and will discipline 91 others as a result of a cheating scandal among intercontinental ballistic missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, made the announcements today during a Pentagon news conference.

“Commanders are also responsible when our people fall short,” Wilson said.

Air Force Col. Robert Stanley, the commander of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom accepted responsibility and submitted his resignation to Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, the commander of 20th Air Force, Wilson said.

Weinstein also relieved nine leaders from the group and squadron level, the general said. He removed Col. Mark Schuler, the 341st Operations Group commander, for loss of confidence in his leadership ability. He also removed the group deputy commander.

The commanders of the 10th, 12th, and 490th missile squadrons were also removed, as was the commander of the 341st operational support squadron. Weinstein further relieved the directors of operation from the 341st Operational Support Squadron and the 10th Missile Squadron. Finally, he relieved the 341st Operations Group’s standardization and evaluation officer.

“None of these people were directly involved in test compromise; however, they all failed adequate leadership, supervision and oversight of the crew force,” Wilson said.

“Disciplinary action is also being taken against the officers who have substantiated cheating from the investigation,” he added.

The investigation ultimately implicated 100 officers who were investigated as part of the compromise, he said. “Of the 100, nine actually were not substantiated and will be returned to duty as soon as practicable,” the general said. “Details of those actions were released after all the members have been served, and they’re being served today.”

Air Force leaders will determine whether the officers can return to alert duty after completion of these actions. “The officers who had unsubstantiated allegations will be retrained, recertified and returned to duty,” he said.

James and Wilson said they will work together to eliminate the systemic problems they found upon investigating the incident.

James said she will attack the unhealthy emphasis on perfection that permeated the base and will reallocate funds to improve the quality of facilities and quality of life for missileers.

“In fiscal year 2014, we have $19 million funded for some of the areas within the force improvement program, including launch control center refurbishment and infrastructure repairs,” she said. “Furthermore, the 20th Air Force has identified an additional $3 million for quality-of-life requirements.”

In its fiscal year 2015 budget request, the service asked for $455 million to sustain its Minuteman squadrons, ICBM helicopter support and some critical communications areas, James said.

“Finally, we’ve identified $154 million in other requirements associated with our force improvement program, including readiness, training and improvements to launch control facilities, to just name a few of the areas,” she said.

As the Air Force executes its funding in 2014, “we’re going to seek to rearrange as much as possible to fund these important programs,” James said. “In other words, we’re not going to wait. We’re going to move forward.”

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service




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