Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Nuclear unit fails key security test

14 August 2013, 09:57

Washington - An Air Force unit that operates one-third of the US land-based nuclear missile force has failed a safety and security inspection, marking the second major setback this year for a force charged with the military's most sensitive mission, the general in charge of the Air Force's nuclear force told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The failure was recorded by the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, which is responsible for 150 Minuteman 3 nuclear missiles that stand on 24/7 alert for potential launch against targets around the globe.

Lt Gen James M Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, which is responsible for the Minuteman 3 force as well as nuclear bombers, said the 341st wing failed a "small team exercise" as part of a broader inspection. The exercise failure meant the whole inspection was a failure, he said.

Kowalski said this did not call into question the unit's safe operation of nuclear missiles but was its second failure of a safety and security inspection in just over three years.

"I wouldn't necessarily call it a pattern," he said, since a large number of those involved in the latest inspection were not there for the previous failure in February 2010.

Kowalski would not discuss details of the failure or explain the exercise, citing security, except to say that it did not involve the crews who monitor the missiles from inside underground launch control capsules. That left open the possibility that it involved airmen responsible for security, weapons maintenance or other aspects of the highly sensitive mission.

"This unit fumbled on this exercise," Kowalski told the AP by telephone from his headquarters in the state of Louisiana.

In a written statement posted to its website, Kowalski's command said there had been "tactical-level errors" during the exercise, revealing "discrepancies".

Without more details it is difficult to make a reliable judgement about the extent and severity of the problem uncovered at Malmstrom. Asked whether the Air Force intends to take disciplinary action against anyone as a result of the inspection failure, Kowalski said the Air Force is "looking into it".

He said those who failed the exercise would be retested within three months.

This is the second major setback this year for the Air Force's nuclear weapons force. Last spring the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, received weak grades on an inspection but did not fail it outright; that performance was so poor, however, that 17 officers temporarily lost their authority to operate missiles.

- AP

Tags us nuclear

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Cyril Mike Odhiz
Kenyans furious on young lady aft...

A young Kenyan woman is the talk of town after she posted a photo with her elderly lover after a round of steamy sex, or so the photo suggested.  Read more...

Submitted by
Kiplangat langat
Uhuru could be a one term Presid...

Bomet governor Isaac Ruto has said that President Uhuru Kenyatta could be a one term President if he fails to increase allocations to the counties. Read more...

Submitted by
Mody Sammy
35 year old farmer a new milliona...

A 35 year old farmer from Mpeketoni Lamu county has become the latest millionaire in town as she became winner in the ongoing ‘Shinda Mamili na Story Ibambe’. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Leave your past relationship bagg...

Leave your past relationship baggage at the door when you start a new relationship. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Advice from a young married Kenya...

I was just going to get water in the office kitchen and thought a simple hi was fine until I ended up in an hour long conversation with someone. Read more...

Submitted by
Shakila Alivitsa
Helping you find the type of man ...

To put it simply, you can’t go looking for fish in a meat market; you have to go to a fish market. Read more...