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Eight Generals Disciplined in Nuke Case

POSTED: 10:44 AM ET, 09/25/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The decision to punish eight Air Force and Army generals for mistakenly shipping fuses for nuclear warheads to Taiwan is the latest blot on the country's system of tending its nuclear arsenal.

The eight generals, ranging in rank from one to three stars, and nine other officers faced a variety of disciplinary actions, including letters of reprimand, The Associated Press reports. The incident occurred in 2006 but did not become public until March.

One Pentagon official told The Post's Ann Scott Tyson that the punishments were "extensive and severe," and that they could spell the end of careers or dim chances at promotions.

In June, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates forced out Gen. Michael Moseley, the former Air Force chief of staff, and ex-Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, blaming them for the Taiwan incident and another episode involving live warheads.

In that case, a crew of U.S. airmen mistakenly transported six live nukes from North Dakota's Minot Air force Base to a Louisiana air base. The event triggered a rare "Bent Spear" incident report that enraged Pentagon leaders and sparked new questions about nuclear safety.

The disciplined generals are expected to be named today, reports Military.com, but other Air Force officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, were skeptical about the thoroughness of a report detailing the Taiwan incident, saying "there is clearly concern that the Air Force has rushed to judgment in an effort to put the nuclear mess behind it."

By Derek Kravitz |  September 25, 2008; 10:44 AM ET
Previous: Lobbyists Camp Out on Hill, McCain Aide's Freddie Ties, Rangel's Ethics Investigation | Next: Air Force Colonel Describes New Claims of Iraqi Torture

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The Schlesinger report talks about the need to revive "the esprit de corps of those who serve" in the nuclear business. These punishments will certainly go a long way in killing esprit for the ICBM and logistics community. A number of outstanding AF leaders were essentially sacrificed.

When pilots left nukes on the flight line improperly guarded overnight and then flew those nukes across the country without knowing it, three Colonels were punished. When the fuse assemblies (not warheads) were improperly marked and shipped to Taiwan six generals and 9 Colonels get punished. In fact, some of the officers punished were not in command when then incident happened and had only taken command several months before the investigation began.

Here's how the SAF addressed the disparity "GEN. SCHWARTZ: I’d like to remind you, sir, if I may, that a wing commander, two group commanders and a squadron commander were sanctioned for the Minot incident. It is true there were a number of others, but there were -- there were senior officers involved in that incident as well."

I guess it’s still their fault because they were not smart enough to be pilots.

The best part is this is only the first step…no doubt when they “implement” the recommendations from the nuclear reviews they will put the pilots, who are now part time nuclear operators at best, in charge of ICBM operations.

Posted by: Bill | September 26, 2008 12:03 AM

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