James: Nuclear Issues are Systemic

The Air Force does “have a systemic problem” within its nuclear forces, Air Force Secretary Deborah James said during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday. And though she, and senior USAF and Defense Department leaders, remain committed to correcting that problem, James noted the cheating scandal at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., centers around a “failure of integrity” among certain airmen, “not a failure of the mission.” She said she is very confident the nuclear “mission is strong” and that it “remains safe, secure, and reliable.” James declined to offer an exact number of airmen under investigation, saying the investigation was ongoing. However, she did acknowledge the numbers are going up. She also outlined seven “observations” she made during her trip last week to the Air Force’s three ICBM bases and Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters at Barksdale AFB, La. By keying in on those observations, James said she hopes the Air Force can maintain a “persistent focus” on the nuclear enterprise over the long term. “Our airmen are entrusted with the most powerful weapon on Earth and this mission is essential to our security and the security of our allies and partners,” said James. (Continue to full report)