US stock market daily report (January 28, 2014, Tuesday)
January 29, 2014, Wednesday, 05:17 GMT | 00:17 EST | 10:47 IST | 13:17 SGT
Official investigation involving U.S. Air Force nuclear missile officers implicated in a nuclear-force cheating scandal has nearly doubled from the original number of 34 suspects. Cheating on proficiency tests for missile launch operations was found by an additional 30-plus airmen, whether directly or indirectly involved.
It was disclosed in January by the USAF that 34 officers were under investigation for either cheating on a key proficiency exam in 2013 or for knowing about the cheating and failing to report it. The suspected officers had their security clearances suspended and were removed from missile launch duty.
While maintaining the safety of U.S. nuclear arms, just last week U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a high-level review of the U.S. nuclear forces, saying he was "deeply concerned" about morale and discipline among nuclear officers. Hagel ordered a review of the problems inside the ICBM force last week and said he would assemble a group of outside experts to look for solutions. On Wednesday, Hagel is scheduled to meet with senior officers involved in the nuclear force to discuss how to attack the problems.
On January 15 the USAF announced the investigation of possible criminal drug use by some airmen. During the investigation, officials discovered that one missile officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana had shared test questions with 16 other officers. USAF said another 17 airmen admitted to knowing of the cheating but did not report it. Malmstrom is home to the 341st missile wing, which operates, maintains and provides security for 150 nuclear-armed Minuteman 3 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, representing a third of the entire ICBM force.
USAF Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh has said the removal of 34 missile launch officers at one time appeared to be the largest such action in the history of the ICBM force. General Welsh said there was "absolutely no excuse" for cheating.
During a Pentagon news conference last week, a "profoundly disappointed" USAF secretary and top civilian official Deborah Lee James told that the alleged cheating at Malmstrom was discovered during a previously announced investigation into drug possession by 11 USAF officers at several air force bases, including at least two who are also in the nuclear force and suspected of participating in the cheating ring.
USAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Brett Ashworth said the air force would not discuss details of the cheating investigation, including any change in the number of suspects, until the probe was completed.