Is Anybody In Charge of the World’s Deadliest Weapons?

I don’t know if you saw my Letter to the Editor in a recent edition of the Eugene Register Guard, but just in case not, the text is below.

Misconduct raises larger concerns

My teeth were on edge and my heart was racing when I learned of yet another problem with the U.S. nuclear missile force. This time, officers were removed from their jobs for allegedly cheating on their monthly proficiency tests (“Air Force removes 34 nuclear officers from jobs for cheating,” Jan. 16).

That followed reports of drug usage, failed safety inspections, sloppy training regimens and general malaise among the forces who maintain and guard the world’s deadliest weapons.

Perhaps they feel insignificant in the jobs they fill because we aren’t actually using those weapons, which brings us to question whether we really need all that killing power when it poses such a huge threat of accidents.

And what are we paying for that internal threat to our security? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates we’ll spend $355 billion over the next decade for nuclear weapons; add in environmental clean-up and other costs and the bill jumps to $570 billion.

As a report from the James Martin Center for nonproliferation concludes, a national discussion is needed about the future of the nuclear triad and deterrent, one that should include both the strategic and financial implications of those decisions.

If the conduct of the former officers in charge of making sure our nuclear missile force is secure is any indication, those discussions can’t come too soon.


The stunning misconduct of those we have entrusted to guard and maintain the most dangerous and destructive weapons in the world boggles the imagination. It’s hard to fathom that the annihilation of the human race could come down to someone in the Air Force nuclear command being asleep at the wheel, unprepared to respond, or launching inadvertently. But that’s looking more and more like a possibility.



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