MONTANA (CNN) – An air force report shows teams at a nuclear weapons facility failed to ward off an attack in a military exercise.
At a nuclear missile site, terrorists infiltrate, and security forces struggle to respond and fail. It was all a test last summer at Malmstrom Air Force Base Montana, but security personnel at a nuclear missile silo failed a crucial exercise in keeping control of their silo and a simulated capture of the nuclear weapon.
The cover of the 17-page report doesn’t even begin to tell of what’s inside. It sounds like a shocking failure in military security.
The finding: security personnel “failed to take all lawful actions necessary to immediately regain control of nuclear weapons.”
The result: the air force team may not have been able “to prevent theft, damage, sabotage, destruction or detonation of a nuclear weapon.”
Former air force missileer Jeffrey Green says it’s likely someone didn’t follow procedures.
“What it doesn’t mean is that there was any physical loss of control or threat of physical loss of control of a nuclear weapon.”
Officially, the air force still says nothing. This report only came to light because the associated press obtained it through a freedom of information act request. The security group’s commander was replaced, and the unit went through retraining and passed several weeks later.
Green says standards remain high because there’s just no room for failure with the nation’s nuclear weapons.
“A failure can mean you know missing a required action by a second. It can mean responding to something a minute or two late.”
The nuclear force has been plagued with disciplinary and morale problems. It’s a high pressure environment that demands, and expects, perfection.