It ain't easy for an Air Force unit to pass a nuclear inspection these days. Air Force Times has details on the flunked test that we first reported on Saturday. It sounds like paperwork issues blew the exam for the 90th Missile Wing.
"Inspectors failed the 90th Missile Wing after discovering the maintenance group had not properly documented tests done to its missiles, even leaving some tests completely undocumented," the paper's Michael Hoffman reports. "An unsatisfactory grade on any portion of the NSI [nuclear surety inspection] fails the entire wing."
Thus far, the wing has passed all other areas of the NSI including the personnel reliability program — which tracks who can handle nuclear weapons — that caused [an earlier unit] to fail.
...Col. Michael Morgan, 90th Missile Wing commander, did say that improvements need to be made.
"The Inspector General gave us an exceptionally thorough review, looking deep into all areas,” said Morgan. “Improvement continues, but as highlighted by this inspection, we need to do much better in administrative and equipment control processes."
After a series of nuclear handling mishaps, there is now a zero tolerance approach to these issues. Air Force officials talk about the need to "change the culture" of the service's nuclear units. Doing it is going to require hard-ass inspections for quite a while. More wings will fail, in the process.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates put it this way: "Handling nuclear weapons –- the most powerful and destructive instruments in the arsenal of freedom – is a tremendous responsibility... "There is simply no room for error."
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