Air Force drug probe widens

What started as an illegal drug investigation involving ten Air Force officers has now widened to dozens of airmen who cheated on proficiency tests, officials said Wednesday.

"This is absolutely unacceptable behavior, and it is completely contrary to our core values in the Air Force," Deborah Lee James, Air Force Secretary, told Pentagon reporters.

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Three of the original 10 under investigation are officers from the Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) forces. The probe widened after investigators found evidence that 34 missile launch officers at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were cheating on proficiency tests. 

"Some officers did it. Others apparently knew about it, and it appears that they did nothing, or at least not enough, to stop it or to report it," James said. 

The entire ICBM force is being retested by the end of Thursday, said James, who is making a personal visit along with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III to several air bases this week. 

The officers under investigation are stationed at Edwards, Malmstrom, Vandenberg, F.E. Warren and Schreiver Air Force Bases, as well as Royal Air Force Lakenheath. 

James said she still had confidence in the security and the effectiveness of the ICBM force. 

"I want you to know that this was a failure of some of our airmen. It was not a failure of the nuclear mission," she said.

The scandal has commanded the attention of the Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was visiting airmen at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming when news of the investigations broke last week.

"Secretary Hagel was deeply troubled to learn of these allegations, and he strongly supports the aggressive steps the Air Force is taking in response to them," Pentagon Press Secretary Adm. John Kirby said in a statement Wednesday.

Hagel met with James earlier in the day, and requested regular updates on the investigations and that James make the health of the ICBM force a top priority.

"Having just returned from visiting with ICBM officers in Wyoming, Secretary Hagel understands the importance of their mission and the necessity that it be executed according to the highest standards of professionalism. He will be following the issue closely," Kirby said.