At least two Air Force officers tasked were punished this year for a serious violation of security protocols, an allegedly too common problem that often goes goes unreported. The Associated Press reports two launch crew commanders and two deputy commanders were punished earlier this year for getting busted sleeping on the job. That wouldn't normally be a problem, except that they also left open an important blast door meant to shield their unresponsive fingertips from unwanted intruders.
When guarding nuclear launch codes, the target of many a James Bond villain, napping is permitted as long as you make sure the multi-ton concrete-and-steel door is locked and closed. That's usually not a difficult request to comply with, but the AP report makes it seem like the door stays open often:
The AP was tipped off to the Malmstrom episode shortly after it happened by an official who felt strongly that it should be made public and that it reflected a more deeply rooted disciplinary problem inside the ICBM force.
In one instance, two officers were caught sleeping with the door open and admitted during questioning it wasn't a one-off offense. In the other instance, an officer was busted asleep on the job — by a disgusted maintenance worker, no less — and snitched on his commander, who allegedly told him to lie about it.
This new report is just the latest black eye for a program that has come under serious scrutiny in recent months. Just two weeks ago, the Air Force general in charge all of the nation's intercontinental ballistic missiles was fired for "personal misbehavior" that was allegedly alcohol related. That same week, Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, the military's number two nuclear commander, was suspended and eventually fired for using fake gambling chips at an Ohio casino earlier this year. And the AP has previously reported on the discipline and moral problems in our nuclear missile units. These uncivilized, drafty anti-door closers are the latest strike against those people in charge of the most powerful weapon program in the world.