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Finger On the Button: Behind the U.S Nuclear Scandal

The job title of nuclear launch officer is one that should never be given out without great consideration and absolute trust in the competency of candidates. It is for this reason that the United States makes each of its nuclear launch officers pass a rigorous proficiency exam before being allowed to carry out their duties. It is also important that these individuals be both ethical and sure of mind- due not only to the intense stress that one may be exposed to in this position, but also because of the grave implications that a mismanagement of their responsibilities may cause. It is a factor that should be taken into particular consideration for countries like the United States that have such large nuclear arsenals, capable of devastation on a global scale.

This week, information has surfaced, identifying 34 Global Strike Command Launch officers as having cheated or abetted cheating on the mandatory proficiency tests. The scandal was immediately addressed by airforce secretary Deborah Lee James, who called the incident an example of “completely unacceptable behaviour”, and deemed the act as something that “is completely contrary to [the Air Force’s] core values”.

While on it’s own, a startling illumination, it is perhaps more disturbing to look at the percentage of the Malmstrom Global Strike Command that was involved in the scandal. There were 190 officers implicated in total, which indicates that a shockingly large 20% of officials were affected.

Although according to the Pentagon there is no longer a threat and the nuclear arsenal is secure, it is the potential that leaves both Americans and the world frightened. It may not even be the fact that the cheating took place that will cause the biggest ripple from this story, but rather that these officers were willing to overlook the authority and the respect of the institution that was administering the test. If Cialis 10mg these individuals are willing to disregard authority for their personal gain, what does that say about the possibility of such people doing the same when there could be much more severe fallout (pardon the word choice). The test, which was designed to be  extremely difficult to pass, may have further incentivized cheating. This is a major flaw which runs counter to the goal of increasing competency in these positions. Perhaps there needs to be a level of psychological testing which would seek to weed out potential cheaters?

The pentagon has stated that it is looking into ways of addressing the issue, but it is specifically in respect to the recent nuclear scandal. Maybe this should serve as a wake up call that there needs to be tighter regulation on the selection of candidates who are allowed to obtain such dangerous military positions, and not just with respect to nuclear arms. The public wants answers, and the vague promises made by the Air Force and Pentagon have been flimsy at best. Immediate and sweeping action is required by both parties in order to renew the already shaky trust in America’s Nuclear Command.

This is troubling news for the Air Force, as only last year one of the missile units at Malmstrom embarrassingly failed a safety and security inspection. On top of this there was also a scandal which took place last year involving the firing of 17 military personnel from a similar base in North Dakota due to a poor inspection. Not an impressive rap sheet for the world’s most powerful nuclear institution.

Hopefully now, with egg on their face, the Pentagon will make the right decision and come up with a more stringent selection process with which the possibility of a much more serious event can be avoided.

– David Hughes

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