Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States The Military

Half of US Nuclear Missile Wing Implicated In Cheating 313

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-did-you-get-for-question-four? dept.
mdsolar writes "Just over half of the 183 nuclear missile launch officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana have been implicated in a widening exam cheating scandal, the Air Force said on Thursday, acknowledging it had 'systemic' problem within its ranks. The cheating was discovered during an investigation into illegal drug possession among airmen, when test answers were found in a text message on one missile launch officer's cell phone. The Air Force initially said 34 officers either knew about the cheating or cheated themselves. But Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told a Pentagon news conference on Thursday that the total number of implicated officers had grown to 92, all of them at Malmstrom, one of three nuclear missile wings overseeing America's 450 inter-continental missiles, or ICBMs."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Half of US Nuclear Missile Wing Implicated In Cheating

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    At least it wasn't launch codes on his cell phone. Let's all be glad about that.

    • Re: At Least ... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:13PM (#46116825)

      least the launch codes aren't 000000 anymore

      • Re: At Least ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:13AM (#46117643)
        They never were. That was actually the code for what essentially amounted to a superfluous lock on the devices. There were still multiple layers of security, physical and otherwise, that prevented any kind of unauthorized use of, or access to, nuclear weapons. The idea that someone, armed with the code 0000000, could have done anything sinister with regard to nuclear weapons is beyond laughable and is well into the realm of nutjob conspiracy theories.
      • least the launch codes aren't 000000 anymore

        Nope, they had to change it to 123456 in the name of national security.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:11PM (#46116813)

    What are the questions for this exam? Why do they need to cheat?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:21PM (#46116861)

      Policies & procedures stuff, primarily. They cheat because, while there is a 'passing' score, your raw score also gets noted in member reviews. And when the review board sees that there's only 10 slots for the next rank in your specialty, and there's 20 people who graduated in the same class and all have good board interviews, of course they'll look at all your test scores next.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:39PM (#46116939)

        there's only 10 slots for the next rank in your specialty, and there's 20 people who graduated in the same class

        Sounds like the military is overstaffed. Some budget cuts are in order.

        • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:44PM (#46116969)

          You don't seem to get it. That's exactly what's happening. The military is cutting troops, not re-enlisting them. When your entire career has been spent sitting in a bunker waiting for the order to destroy the world, getting laid off is a bit more of a threat to you than others. I know quite a few career military guys and they all fear for their jobs right now. Not that it's a bad thing, our military is way way too big... but you can understand why these people are going to such lengths.

          • The military is cutting troops, not re-enlisting them.
            Exactly. Right now is more difficult than ever for both officers and enlisted to "stay it" unless they are "top performers". The US military is downsizing by substantial numbers (and this is a good thing).

            In the USAF (my employer - I'm a former Active Duty civilian), Operational Flying and the career fields that support it are doing quite well, and those that fail to make Major or have some other issue are pushed to UAVs. But yes, as some Lt or Captain in a bunker, you might want to plan an "after-USAF" career. We'll probably always have nukes, but it's a small career field getting smaller with no analog on the "outside".

            • by Firethorn (177587)

              In the USAF (my employer - I'm a former Active Duty civilian), Operational Flying and the career fields that support it are doing quite well, and those that fail to make Major or have some other issue are pushed to UAVs. But yes, as some Lt or Captain in a bunker, you might want to plan an "after-USAF" career. We'll probably always have nukes, but it's a small career field getting smaller with no analog on the "outside".

              Think wider. There will always need to be some cross-training done, but 'sits in a bunker waiting to act' does actually cover a number of fields. 911 operator, for example. The cheating is very bad, but for somebody with at clean record and at least a Bachelour's, 911 mostly consists of waiting in a building for a phone call, then working through checklists on the basis of the phone call. Dispachers, sitting watch on non-critical bits of nuclear plants(or getting the training TO sit the critical watches

    • by treeves (963993) on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:37AM (#46117195) Homepage Journal

      example
      1. When should you launch a missile?
      a. Whenever you feel like it.
      b. Now.
      c. Never.
      d. When your commanding officer tells you to launch.
      e. None of the above.

      2. Who can authorize a strategic launch?
      a. Anyone.
      b. The mailman.
      c. County sheriff's deputies.
      d. The POTUS
      e. The tooth fairy.

       

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:32PM (#46120717) Homepage

        Having studied for government certification exams before, a more likely set of questions is:

        What is the regulation that allows a warhead restraining bolt to be inspected without a current bolt inspector certification certificate?
        a. 19.393.7(b)3
        b. 17.101.4
        c 19.393.9(c)4
        d 19.393.12(d)7.5

        What is the model number of the restraining bolt for a launch button assembly? (not mentioned: As of the time of printing of this 5 year old test.)
        a. 413
        b. 74A3
        c. 802
        d. 7/12

    • How To Turn A Key 101. In seriousness I was wondering the same thing.
    • Why bother what the questions are if half of the people taking them are cheating? Why did they get the job in the first place? What tests did they have to pass to get the job? How is it possible that half of the people that are supposed to be 100% honest and dependable get implicated in cheating? We can't afford to have this happen with the people that are supposed to handle such a responsible job. Until this is absolutely clear, new test methods have been devised and retesting has been done, world peace i
    • What are the questions for this exam? Why do they need to cheat?

      It's not for an exam! They have mistresses :)

    • by Salgak1 (20136) <`ten.ysaekaeps' `ta' `kaglas'> on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:08AM (#46118863) Homepage

      I cannot speak to what MISSILE crews had to pass, but I was a SAC B-52 Crewdawg in the 1980s. We were CONSTANTLY getting tested on aircraft knowledge (i.e. how well we knew our equipment, and what the appropriate "dash" volume said about it), emergency procedures (which had to test 100% correct or you were pulled from flight duty), and what we called "command and control procedures" (i.e. how to properly authenticate and decode Action Messages and Emergency Action Messages).

      ANY failure: classroom test, simulator ride, or inflight evaluation was devastating to the career, at least back in the days of Strategic Air Command. . .

  • No real surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by capedgirardeau (531367) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:17PM (#46116847)

    No surprise to me.

    It is a terrible, mind numbingly boring job that is essentially a career killer in the Air Force. Not to mention the fact that the likelihood of them actually having to do what they train for is very low and if they do have to do what they trained for it basically means they are helping end life on this planet as we know it.

    I completely understand why they would not be motivated to excel on the exams and/or might smoke a little grass.

    I wonder what their Russian counterparts' moral is like.

    • Re:No real surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:27PM (#46116895) Homepage Journal
      Re I wonder what their Russian counterparts' moral is like.
      Depends on their tasks but from been surrounded with known issues like on other parts of the Russian mil:
      I would guess very creative and never a slow day.
      List of Russian military accidents http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]
      "A nuclear submarine had its electricity cut by an electricity company at a naval base due to unpaid bills. The submarine's cooling system ceased to function and the reactor "came close to meltdown""
      • by Shavano (2541114)

        WTF? How does a nuclear sub need electric service?

        • Re:No real surprise (Score:4, Informative)

          by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:20AM (#46117685) Homepage

          The same way that Fukushima's reactors did.

          Nuclear reactors don't cool down for weeks after they stop producing power. During this time they need outside electric to cool the core. This particular sub was in dock, likely with the core shut down.

    • "Career killer"? In what world is life as a Air Force officer and eventual retirement as an O-5 or above while still in your early 40s (late 30s even) not considered a successful career?
      • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:59PM (#46117031) Homepage

        <voice style="male movietrailer stereotypical">

        In a world where there's more to life than a title and pay grade, where people want to have an interesting job doing more than endlessly waiting for an order - an order they hope will never come - one man must decide, between his honor, and his sanity.

        <video src="MilitaryCadets.webm"></video>

        <video src="StressfulExam.webm"></video>

        <video src="ImpliedCheating.webm"></video>

        This summer, the biggest threat to a nation... ...is its own bureaucracy.

        <video src="BaseFlyover.webm"></video>

        Coming July 4th to a theater of war near you.

        <video src="MissileSiloOpening.webm"></video>

        </voice>

      • 'Career Killer' in the sense that they aren't retiring as an O-5, they're retiring as an O-4 if they're lucky, probably 'let go' after 10 years as an O-3.

        To be a USAF officer you have to have your Bachelour's. That translates to most officers being at least 22. 42 is their earliest retirement age, 'Late 30's' would be for an enlisted member. An officer retiring that way would have to be an 'OE', or an enlisted member who went officer. They tend not to get stuck in capsules.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If they weren't "motivated to excel on the exams," why have half of them been implicated for cheating on those same exams?

      Here's some uncomfortable facts for you to deal with; you created the weapons that could "end life on this planet as we know it," and in charge of those weapons you put cheats, liars and frauds. People who are more interested in their own careers and their exam averages than the inhuman power that they wield. People who are so mind-numbingly corrupt that they have no place in the armed f

    • I completely understand why they would not be motivated to excel on the exams and/or might smoke a little grass.

      Everybody knows that smoking cannabis will lead you to question authority instead of being an automaton willing to launch your nukes without any voice confirmation over the phone.

      (If that went over your head, you were probably getting high the last time you watched the first 5 minutes of War Games)

  • by stox (131684) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:21PM (#46116863) Homepage

    in our school systems.

  • It strikes me as odd that this many people would go bad. Maybe the tests were a joke they were so hard so everybody just winked and cheated; otherwise the place might have been empty with a bunch of people "failing" for no good reason.

    A good example of this is apparently in China nearly everyone bribes to get a driver's license. The test is pretty much impossible. I read that some people try to take it as a challenge. For example some of the questions on the test have exactly opposite correct answers to
  • SAC was famous for tight discipline and esprit de corps. When TAC ate SAC, many SAC folks we'd inherited predicted slack standards and the end of the highly disciplined SAC culture. Years of fuckups proved their point.

    Some jobs require performance of a very high standard. Go old-school and crush the cheaters in an exemplary manner. Do what Curtis LeMay would do to shitbags and replace the lot.

    • by pla (258480)
      Some jobs require performance of a very high standard.

      This ain't one of 'em. "Wait in a bunker for three days at a time, for an order that will never come". Woo-hoo, now that right there takes some serious best-of-the-bestness!


      Go old-school and crush the cheaters in an exemplary manner.

      Meh. Cheating to a get a job that anyone with an ounce of motivation would do their damnedest to avoid? Let 'em have it, keep them out of better jobs, and get rid of the stupid test. Anyone that wants to spend 2
      • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:08AM (#46117355) Journal
        hmmmm. I do not think that you understand what the job is. These men are ran through drills where all of the sounds, and feelings would be the REAL thing. IOW, for their drills, they really believe that they are going through the real thing. That is harsh. It causes these men/women to have some hard strains on them. And being locked up when your family is suffering, is even harder.
        My sister was in the hospital with a 106 fever when the cuban missle crisis started. So, he had to sit on a runway for 3 days, with a nuke about 20' away from him, ready to fly to USSR and drop it, while he had absolutely NO idea of how his daughter was doing in the hospital. It was not until the stand down that he found out that she was alive. That is a hard thing to do.
    • what is sad, is that the USAF has not decided to reverse poppa Bush's mistake. SAC really is needed.
      • by Firethorn (177587)

        Uh... ACC(Air Combat Command) has lost a lot of the nuke mission in favor of a new command: Global Strike Command(GSC), which is basically SAC in all but name.

        Well, okay not quite - it doesn't have the resources or manpower than SAC did, and it'll take time to build the processes that were dropped when SAC joined TAC.

  • Where was the NSA? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MasseKid (1294554) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:52PM (#46116999)
    So the NSA, for all of it's intrusion into privacy to protect us all, could not find 93 co-conspirators who had access to nuclear weapons, how on earth can we expect them to find a small terrorist cell? What the hell are we trading our liberties, privacy, and freedom for if they can't even uncover something as large as this?
  • With all of the organized cheating that happens in american schools too (and to move up the ranks in out businesses), I'm not surprised. Cheating is as american as apple pie.
    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      With all of the organized cheating that happens in american schools too (and to move up the ranks in out businesses), I'm not surprised. Cheating is as american as apple pie.

      That's probably the best comparison so far. With No-Child-Left-Behind (aka - no kids gets ahead), the schools had financial incentive to pass kids who would not have otherwise passed and teachers were directly penalized for failing kids. The predictable result was teachers helping kids cheat on the tests and fudging scores. In this case, the wing commander knew cheating was rampant but didn't intervene because they didn't want the wing to look bad.

      What's next, the fact that the answers to the Postal exam

  • Nothing to worry about. It's just a 50th Anniversary tribute to Dr. Strangelove.
    http://www.newyorker.com/onlin... [newyorker.com]
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00... [imdb.com]

    • by guttentag (313541)

      Nothing to worry about. It's just a 50th Anniversary tribute to Dr. Strangelove.

      Interesting sentiment, considering things got to a point in Dr. Strangelove where soldiers breaking the law was the only hope for saving the world:

      Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel... that Coca-Cola machine. I want you to shoot the lock off it. There may be some change in there.
      Colonel "Bat" Guano: That's private property.
      Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel! Can you possibly imagine what is going to happen to you, your frame, outlook, way of life, and everything, when they learn that you have obstructed a telephone call to the President of the United States? Can you imagine? Shoot it off! Shoot! With a gun! That's what the bullets are for, you twit!
      Colonel "Bat" Guano: Okay. I'm gonna get your money for ya. But if you don't get the President of the United States on that phone, you know what's gonna happen to you?
      Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: What?
      Colonel "Bat" Guano: You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.

      Perhaps encouraging these officers to come up with outside the box solutions is a good idea. Not that it worked in the movie, but they need to be prepared to piss on a spark plug if they think it will do any good.

  • OK, if the children can't take care of their toys it's time to put them away. I say (not that I have any say in the matter) we have a chat with the Russians and agree to get rid of an additional 450 deployed launchers each, and reducing the warhead count. Call it New START II. We can then turn the 450 boosters over to Orbital Sciences to use for space launch missions.
  • I can do this:

    Marijuana - check
    Cocaine - check
    LSD - check
    Peyote - check
    Mushrooms - check
    Strawberry Daqarita - check
    Ayn Rand Looney time - check

    Do I pass?

  • How can part of a missile cheat at anything? And what does "half a wing" mean? Aren't the fins on the missiles one-piece?

  • will keep control at the top where it belongs

  • by Osgeld (1900440)

    is it Tuesday again? On the ball as always there /.

  • Here is one of the messages containing a test answer:

    "When they ask ' How about Global Thermonuclear War?', answer NO!"

    You would think that would be obvious, but.
  • The best of the BEST of THE BEST, SIR!

  • If you have it in your collection, watch WarGames again.

    The opening sequence has a missile operator discussing the quality of the sensemilia his girlfriend was growing with the other. And the bonus easter egg for those of you that do is the sign in the corridor :-)

Life. Don't talk to me about life. - Marvin the Paranoid Anroid

Working...