No Meltdown

Air Combat Command has issued a statement that provides perspective on the overall unsatisfactory performance of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., during the intense 10-day inspection in May of its readiness to execute nuclear operations. The wing flies B-52 bombers capable of deploying nuclear weapons. “It is important to note that these inspections are extremely detailed and demand the highest standards of performance,” Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes, ACC’s inspector general, said in the command’s May 31 release. Indeed even something as seemingly minute as improper tire pressure on a transport vehicle could result in an overall unsatisfactory grade, the command said. Regardless, Reynes said, “There is no room for error” and “anything less than full compliance is unacceptable.” It was this less-than-full compliance that led the 5th BW to fall short during the defense nuclear surety inspection that began May 16, its first since June 2006. The spotlight was on the unit since the inspection was also the first of its kind since last August’s nuclear gaffe involving the errant transfer of six nuclear armed cruise missiles from Minot to Louisiana that led to the wing losing its nuclear certification for about seven months. “Although the wing excelled in numerous areas, deficiencies were observed in the areas of security and logistics movement,” ACC wrote of the inspection’s findings. The wing will be retested within 90 days. Nonetheless, the wing continues to have “the full confidence, trust and support of Air Force leadership” and “remains capable and certified to continue operations and training for its strategic mission,” said Gen. John Corley, ACC commander. Also, not to be overlooked is the fact that the IG recognized 86 individuals and 30 teams for their superior performance during the inspection, ACC noted.