92 Air Force officers suspended for cheating on exam

The Air Force said Thursday that it has suspended 92 officers who are suspected of taking part in a cheating scandal.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she believes there’s a systemic problem among missile launch officers.

After meeting with thousands of airmen, James said they found 92 missile launch officers were involved in cheating on a test at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Malmstrom air base is one of three bases that oversee the country’s arsenal of 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to The New York Times

ADVERTISEMENT
“I heard repeatedly from teammates that the need for perfection has created a climate of undue stress and fear,” James told reporters on Thursday. "I heard repeatedly that the system can be very punitive, come down very hard in the case of even small, minor issues that crop up, but not equally rewarding or incentivized for excellent behavior or good work.” 

The officers involved allegedly shared answers to monthly nuclear proficiency tests.

“These missileers didn't cheat to pass, they cheated because they felt driven to get 100 percent; getting 90 percent or 95 percent was considered a failure in their eyes,” James said.

Officials uncovered the cheating sandal while conducting a separate investigation into nuclear missile officers’ drug use. They initially found 34 Air Force officers had cheated on the exam. 

James said she would create a plan to help fix these systemic issues, and would present it to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in April.