The Washington Post

Air Force relieves 6 officers at nuclear base


Six Air Force officers who were in charge of caring for the infrastruc­ture, fuel and logistics support for a North Dakota nuclear missile base were relieved of command due to a loss of confidence in their ability to carry out their responsibi­lities, the Air Force said.

The officers include two commanders and four subordinat­e officers at Minot Air Force Base, including 5th Mission Support Group commander Col. Gregory Mayer and 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron Maj. Jonathan Welch, a defense official said. The four subordinat­e officers were not identified.

The official said the dismissals were based on noncomplia­nce with safety regulation­s for vehicles and equipment, and while the decision to relieve the officers of command was based on the results of one safety inspection, the units had not been compliant for some time.

The official said the dismissals reflect the tougher line the Air Force has taken on discipline within its nuclear ranks, which have weathered a series of safety concerns and controvers­ies.

In 2007, a B-52 Stratofort­ress took off from Minot mistakenly loaded with six nuclear-armed AGM-129 cruise missiles and flew across the country to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. In 2014, a nuclear safety inspection­s cheating scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana embroiled scores of missileers and officers, and in 2016, investigat­ors busted an LSD drug ring at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. Minot, Malmstrom and F.E. Warren are home to a total of 450 silo-based Minuteman III interconti­nental ballistic missiles.

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