By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 2014 – Retesting of all ICBM launch crewmen will finish today, the Pentagon press secretary announced during a news conference.
Air Force officials ordered the retesting after discovering that nuclear launch crews cheated on proficiency exams. A total of 34 crewmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., have been suspended from duty due to the allegations.
Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said that as of last night, 277 out of the total of 497 ICBM crew had taken the test. This is about 55 percent of the entire force. Of these, 96 percent passed. A total of 11 airmen failed the exam.
“For those 11 who failed, they’ll be retrained and returned to duty following a second re-test,” Kirby said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is intensely interested in the matter and intends to follow it closely, Kirby said, adding that Hagel considers the security and effectiveness of the nuclear mission to be vital.
Hagel is open to any method to improve the nuclear force, Kirby said. The secretary visited ICBM crewmen last week and asked if new incentives would help recruit and retain them. “They acknowledged that it’s something that they talk about in the force – the potential value incentives,” Kirby said. “But they also said that they take great pride in what they do and … they weren’t sure whether incentives would make that much of a difference.”
The secretary indicated, however, that he is willing to think about incentives. “He didn’t make any decisions,” Kirby said. “He didn’t make any promises. But he expressed that he is willing to look at that. He considers the ICBM force – that leg of the triad – that vital, and he’s not going to close any doors.”
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