The 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., failed its nuclear surety inspection after inspectors found problems with wing’s Maintenance Group and its personnel reliability program, which monitors who can work with nuclear weapons, an Air Force official said.
The 341st is one of three Air Force wings that maintain the nation’s Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Inspectors found minor deficiencies with the way security forces protected the weapons storage area during the inspection, said an Air Force officer briefed on the inspection results who asked to remain anonymous.
Earlier this year the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., failed its NSI after problems were found with its security forces. Those problems have since been corrected, said 5th Bomb Wing commander Col. Joel Westa.
Task forces charged with critiquing the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise — including one led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger — have consistently faulted the service’s nuclear inspection regime.
“Over the past 10 years, inspection pass rates point to anomalies that indicate a systemic problem in the inspection regime,” according to the Schlesinger report.
The existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of any regime threatens everyone, everywhere. Even the “good guys” are fallible. The Air Force’s poor nuke security record means we have poor assurances that we, and not some lunatic, will be in charge of picking which cities in which to slaughter whole civilian populations.
To quote the most famous political ad of all time (LBJ’s campaign, no less):
“These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God’s children can life, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.”
Violence, even the weapons of ultimate violence, cannot prevent each of us from dying. The American nuclear arsenal serves as a talisman against the fear of other countries, of their ability to harm us, to end our lives. The cruel twist in the story is that we are so afraid of death that we’ve created tools to ward it off that may kill all of us.